Wrap: Flyers Lose 3-1 Decision in Colorado
The Philadelphia Flyers fell short against a tough Colorado Avalanche team, 3-1, at the Pepsi Center on Wednesday night. The Avalanche scored once each period, and a dominant second period by the Flyers went for naught as they only saw a one-goal deficit increase to two.
Matt Calvert (6th goal of the season) scored once and Mikko Rantanen (7th and 8th) tallied twice as the Avalanche put a 3-0 stranglehold on the game. Claude Giroux (10th) cut the gap to 3-1 with 5:12 remaining in the game, but Colorado closed out the game.
Flyers goalie Carter Hart played better than his stats (3 goals against on 28 shots) would suggest, but absorbed the loss. Pavel Francouz flirted with a shutout for nearly 55 minutes and stopped 31 of 33 shots to earn second-star honors.
The Flyers went 0-for-2 on the power play; one abbreviated and one full length. They are thus far 0-for-11 in December and 9-for-65 (13.8 percent) dating back to Nov. 1. Philadelphia went 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Overall, Sean Couturier's line was fine, controlling the majority of the play when they were on the ice and the Flyers as a whole dominated the 2nd period. But the Kevin Hayes' line had a tough night -- they had some looks but no goals offensively and, at the other end, were out for all three goals against -- and the Morgan Frost line didn't get much going chance-wise except for a shift here and there where there were momentary opportunities off Colorado turnovers. Top-pairing defenseman Ivan Provorov (23:47 TOI, 3 shots on net on six attempts, +1, two hits, three blocks) came close to a second period goal on one such shift.
Second-year pro winger David Kase made his NHL debut. The Flyers forward recorded two shots on goal, four total attempts and two credited hits in 7:47 of ice time. Philly's fourth line, with Kase and Chris Stewart centered by Mikhail Vorobyev was better than the line of Frost centering James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Pitlick.
The Flyers struggled early with the pace Colorado dictated in a first period that turned lopsided against them over the latter half of the frame. Thanks almost solely to Hart, Philly managed to keep the damage to a 1-0 deficit at intermission. Shots on goal were 13-8 in Colorado's favor (shot attempts were 23-10). A failed clear by Robert Hägg and a deflected shot off the post produced a Calvert goal at 5:21. The assists went to Valeri Nichuskin and ex-Flyer Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
After Colorado had each of the last nine shots in the first period, the Flyers controlled the early portion of the middle stanza as they established a forecheck and some extended cycling to generate an 11-0 shot edge through 8:21. The Flyers went on to have a 17-5 shot edge (27-8 attempt edge) in the second period.
Francouz came up with several tough saves, including a couple on the Couturier line. However, the save of the period and the game belonged to Hart -- a 10-bell lateral movement glove save on Rantanen off a 2-on-1 saucer pass from Nathan MacKinnon.
Unfortunately, at 16:05, Hart had no chance to stop Rantanen on a line rush goal by Colorado. Hayes recovered in good shape to create a 3-on-3 after Colorado moved up ice fast on a stretch pass. Yhen Hayes (on the right) and Robert Hägg (over the middle) looked over to take a peek at what the dangerous Nathan MacKinnon was doing on the left side. That enabled Rantanen to keep going and get inside stick position on Hayes. MacKinnon slid a deft pass through Travis Sanheim's skates, and Rantanen potted it.
The deficit grew to 3-0 at 2:31 of the third period. In front of the net, Matt Niskanen got caught in between two Avalanche wingers; Landeskog and Rantanen. Justin Braun pursued Nazem Kadri behind the net, and the Flyers forwards were behind the play on a slow-moving line change. Rantanen was wide open point blank on the right side to take a Kadri passout and score.
The Flyers had their chances to start to cut into the now-cavernous deficit but were stymied by Francouz. Finally, at 14:48, Giroux got the goal back as Jakub Voracek put the puck back out in front after an initial Giroux pass intended for him missed connections. Couturier got the secondary assist.
The Flyers were unable to draw any closer. Third period shots were 10-8 Colorado.
The Flyers are idle on Thursday and Friday night. Then they face back-to-back games in Minnesota and Winnipeg to complete a three-game road trip.