CALGARY, Alberta — Playing the second leg of a back-to-back is always tough. It gets even more difficult on the road, after brushing off the emotions of a Stanley Cup banner-raising ceremony, and against a team kicking off its season.

Oh, and Nazem Kadri happens to now be playing for that team.

Listen to “The Banner Night, the Flameout and Nazem Kadri’s Ring” on Spreaker.

The Avalanche were fresh off a dominating performance to open the season but struggled 24 hours later, dropping their first road game of the year 3-1 to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday. Colorado opened the scoring off a goal from Bowen Byram at 4-on-4 but didn’t muster much after that. Nathan MacKinnon and Valeri Nichushkin added late tallies when the game was already out of reach.

It was Calgary that controlled play nearly the entire way, at one point holding the Avs to just four shots midway through the second period.

“Give Calgary credit, I thought they did what they needed to do to make it tough on us,” head coach Jared Bednar said. “But yeah, didn’t win a lot of races. Definitely got more engaged as the game went on.”

Following the game, Erik Johnson, Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar and MacKinnon presented Kadri with his Stanley Cup ring. Kadri’s entire family came down to the Avs’ dressing room area to be a part of his special moment.

Colorado stayed close for most of the night. But after a breakaway goal from Rasmus Andersson just as he exited the box, things began to unravel for the reigning Cup champs.

Johnson took a late second-period penalty for cross-checking Kadri. And on the ensuing power play, Kadri set up linemate Tyler Toffoli to make it 4-1. But just as Toffoli scored, Makar got him with a high stick — sending the Flames back to the PP where they’d capitalize once again.

The goal from Elias Lindholm was the fourth power-play tally against the Avalanche this season on just nine opportunities.

“Last night, we had a real good night and the power play and tonight was a different story,” Bednar said. “They had a night on the power play. And we just couldn’t quite find it the way we wanted to.”

Pavel Francouz’s strong start was suddenly washed away. Francouz was paramount in keeping the game within reach. But once the Flames started to capitalize, his magic began to dissipate.

Francouz finished the night with 11 saves and an .814 save percentage. But the Avs felt they didn’t give him much support.

“We left him out to dry a couple of times,” Makar said, “Obviously, we can’t do that, especially on our power play.”

The majority of the chances belonged to the Flames from the get-go. Tyler Toffoli was stopped by Francouz on the first shift before the Avs’ backup netminder was relied on to make multiple other big saves.

Once Byram scored, things started to calm down but Calgary eventually stormed back to continue to control play. The Avs were held without a shot for a majority of the latter half of the first period. And then a game-tying goal from Brett Ritchie off a feed from Milan Lucic made it 1-1.

Calgary took a 14-3 shot advantage into the intermission and had to feel great about their opening period despite the somewhat flukey goal from Byram.

The Avalanche had ample opportunity on the power play. Looking to build off a strong 4-for-6 success rate at Ball Arena, the Avs failed to capitalize on each of their first three chances before Valeri Nichushkin scored one late to make it 5-3.

The game was already out of reach by then.

“We got in at four o’clock in the morning, we’re playing on a back to back and they’re waiting on us,” Bednar said. “Sometimes it just is what it is and what goes around comes around.”

Aarif Deen is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.

Listen to “The Banner Night, the Flameout and Nazem Kadri’s Ring” on Spreaker.