FLYERS NIP COLORADO
Home winless streak hits six
The Avalanche’s home-ice misery continued Wednesday night.
And the Philadelphia Flyers remained the hottest team in the NHL.
Roman Lyubimov and Brayden Schenn’s early third-period goals broke open a 2-2 game and the Flyers went on to beat Colorado 4-3 at the Pepsi Center and extend their winning streak to 10.
At the other end of the spectrum, the loss stretched the Avalanche’s home winless streak to six games and dropped Colorado to 11-16-1 for the season. Colorado hasn’t won at the Pepsi Center since a 4-1 trouncing of the Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 15.
Matt Duchene had two goals and Rene Bourque one for the Avalanche, but Bourque also had the wince-inducing turnover that led to Lyubimov’s tie-breaking score.
The only positive asterisk to that is that Colorado’s 28 games played are tied with Minnesota, Nashville and Los Angeles for the lowest total in the Western Conference, and the Avalanche, with a league-worst 23 points, has as many as four games in hand on other teams in the West. But if the Avalanche doesn’t begin making home ice an advantage, that all will be moot.
Calvin Pickard, getting the start in net because Semyon Varlamov came out of his 51-save win at Toronto on Sunday with a groin muscle issue, had 12 saves in the scoreless first period, and the Avalanche killed off both Flyers’ power plays. Colorado, meanwhile, had only five shots on Flyers goalie Steve Mason in the period.
The Flyers opened the scoring at 4:01 of the second, when Michael Del Zotto’s shot at the end of a rush went off Pickard, up and then down to the ice, and Del Zotto knocked it in.
Eight minutes later, the Avalanche pulled even shortly after putting considerable pressure on Mason on its first power play of the night, but failing to score. Ten seconds after Philadelphia winger Dale Weise’s holding minor ended, Avalanche center Carl Soderberg won a faceoff in the Flyers’ end and Bourque got to the puck, turned and beat Mason from the top of the slot for his ninth goal of the season.
Then the teams traded goals in a span of 23 seconds late in the second. The Avalanche led 2-1 after Duchene, near the boards, passed to Nikita Zadorov straight out. Mason made a pad save on the Russian’s shot, but Duchene was going to the net and put in the rebound.
The Flyers quickly tied it up when Wayne Simmonds took a pass from Radko Gudas and broke in on Pickard, and his shot dribbled off the Avs goalie and in.
The Flyers appeared to take a 3-2 lead at 18:15 of the period, but a video review ruled that Pierre-Edouard Bellemare deflected the puck in with a high stick, agreeing with the gestures Pickard and the Avs on the ice made after the goal light went on. But there was no such wave-off at 3:30 of the third, when Bourque lost the puck in front after breaking around his own net and Lyubimov pounced on it and fired it past a surprised Pickard. Then, at 5:16, Schenn broke around Avalanche defenseman Francois Beauchemin, cut past Picard and scored to put the Flyers up by two.
Duchene’s second goal got the Avalanche to within one at 4:15 of the third. With Pickard off for a sixth attacker, the Avalanche put on considerable pressure, but couldn’t tie it up.
The Avalanche finishes up the two-game homestand Friday against the Florida Panthers.
Philadelphia defenseman Michael Del Zotto, left, celebrates his goal with center Travis Konecny in the Flyers’ 4-3 victory over the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.