Instant Replay: Avalanche 2, Flyers 1

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Instant Replay: Avalanche 2, Flyers 1

BOX SCORE

DENVER -- The perfect record on this five-game western road trip is no longer perfect.

The Colorado Avalanche outplayed the Flyers offensively Thursday night at Pepsi Center and came away with a 2-1 victory.

The loss was the Flyers' first in four games on this road trip, as they officially hit the midway point (41 games) of the season.

Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov simply stoned the Flyers -- no pun intended -- at every angle at the net.

He didn’t outplay Flyers goalie Steve Mason, but he was good. Mason was under siege in the third period and gave the Flyers every chance to get a victory.

Just when things were going so well for the Flyers' first line ... a major injury.

Michael Raffl suffered a concussion in the opening period. He had replaced Scott Hartnell on the top line nine games ago.

Raffl’s absence forced coach Craig Berube to rotate Steve Downie, Brayden Schenn and others to the top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

Matt Read was already sidelined with an upper body injury, so the Flyers were pretty much down two forwards most of this game.

Ryan O’Reilly’s shot near the midpoint of the second period hit Mason’s right pad and bounced up and over his shoulder, giving Colorado a 2-0 lead which seemed like 4-0 given the saves Varlamov was making. It didn't hit Mason's shoulder, although it appeared that way. 

Wayne Simmonds halved the deficit four minutes later by redirecting Andrej Meszaros’ wrister from the left circle, setting up a tense final period in which the Flyers made a late push but could not tie the game and simply didn’t put enough shots on net in the last period.

Injuries
Raffl left the game with a concussion in the final three minutes of the first period after taking a hit from Gabriel Landeskog.

Hot
Simmonds has seven goals over the past six games.

Post shots
Paul Stastny ripped one off the left post in the final second of the second period with the Avs leading, 2-1.

Telling stat
The Avs came into the game 7-0-2 against the Flyers in their previous nine meetings. Since the Avs moved from McNichols Arena to Pepsi Center in 1999, they were 4-2-3 against the Flyers in this building. 

Turnovers
One by Sean Couturier resulted in Jamie McGinn’s first-period goal and a 1-0 lead at 11:14. Mason made the initial save on Matt Duchene, but the rebound went directly to McGinn in the slot for an easy goal. Not much of a backcheck there from Couturier, who turned it over in the neutral zone.

Quality saves
Mason had two during the Avs’ first-period power play with a glove save on Ryan O’Reilly and a stop on Landeskog. When the power play ended, he denied Duchene during a turnover in the slot. Varlamov had a quality pad stop on Scott Hartnell early in the second period off an odd-man rush, as well.

Flyer chances
Downie had one on Varlamov’s doorstep during the opening shift of the game that was covered up. Downie’s better chance was during a breakaway pass from Mark Streit on the Flyers' late first-period power play. Varlamov made a pad stop on his backhand, much like the pad stop he made on Simmonds in the paint earlier that power play. Varlamov robbed Downie during a second-period power play, as well, inside the paint again.

Couturier had a chance with 3:24 left in the game but Varlamov covered up on a bouncing puck.

He also had a glove stop on Simmonds very late.

Special teams
The Flyers were 0 for 3 on the power play, while the Avs were 0 for 2.

Berube said at the morning skate that his players had to move on the power play up top and shoot, otherwise their shots will be blocked. Near the midpoint of the third period, Vinny Lecavalier stood at the point and tried to shoot one through the Avs on a key Flyers power play. It was blocked out of the zone. 

Scratches
Forward Matt Read missed the game with an upper body injury; defenseman Erik Gustafsson missed the game with a sprained left knee; defenseman Hal Gill and forward Chris VanderVelde were healthy scratches.

Loose pucks
Incredibly, there were rather loud “Let’s Go Flyers” chants. Looking around, there was a very noticeable number of Flyer orange jerseys in the stands, too. ... Avs coach Patrick Roy said he would alternate Paul Stastny and Duchene against Giroux’s line. ... Jamie McGinn is Tye’s older brother.

Best of NHL: Last-place Islanders take down rival Rangers

Best of NHL: Last-place Islanders take down rival Rangers

NEW YORK -- Andrew Ladd scored in the second period and Jaroslav Halak stopped 36 shots to lead the New York Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the crosstown-rival Rangers on Tuesday night.

John Tavares, Jason Chimera and Scott Mayfield also scored at the Barclays Center to help the last-place Islanders improve to 4-0-1 in their last five games.

Jimmy Vesey and Marc Staal scored for the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 28 saves. The Rangers have alternated wins and losses in regulation in their last eight games.

Halak beat Lundqvist for the ninth time in their last 10 matchups. Halak had won eight straight -- including the last five after joining the Islanders before the 2014-15 season -- before Lundqvist ended the streak in the Rangers' 5-3 win in the season opener Oct. 13 at Madison Square Garden. Lundqvist is now 1-6-1 in his last eight against the Islanders (see full recap).

Schwartz lifts Blues over Canadiens in OT
ST. LOUIS -- Jaden Schwartz got his second goal of the game in overtime, leading the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.

Paul Stastny also scored for St. Louis, which has won four of five. The Blues rallied from a 2-0 deficit and have a point in their last 13 home games.

Tomas Plekanec and Paul Byron scored for Montreal, which completed a five-game trip 2-3.

Goalie Jake Allen made 28 saves to improve to 13-3-3.

Schwartz lifted a backhander past goalie Al Montoya with 1:22 left in overtime.

Stastny and Schwartz scored in a 2:51 span in the third period to tie it at 2 (see full recap).

Blackhawks blank Coyotes to snap modest skid
CHICAGO -- Marian Hossa had two goals, Scott Darling made 22 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0 on Tuesday night to snap a two-game slide.

Artem Anisimov and Dennis Rasmussen also scored to help Chicago maintain a three-point lead over St. Louis in the Central Division.

Darling made a handful of tough stops but wasn't heavily tested in his first shutout this season and third of his career. He started his third straight game in place of No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford, who had an appendectomy in Philadelphia on Saturday.

The 37-year-old Hossa scored his team-leading 13th and 14th goals in his 27th game -- surpassing his total of 13 last season in 64 contests (see full recap).

Confident Flyers extend winning streak to 6 straight games

Confident Flyers extend winning streak to 6 straight games

BOX SCORE

They’ll admit it was choppy, sloppy hockey much of the night.

They didn’t bring their “A” game. Or “B” for that matter.
 
What the Flyers did have, however, was the confidence of a winning streak. And a hot goaltender in Steve Mason.
 
That was all they needed Tuesday to nudge the injury-riddled Florida Panthers, 3-2, in overtime at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).
 
That’s six wins in succession for the Flyers, who moved to within two points of the Rangers and Penguins, both atop the Metropolitan Division. This equals the Flyers’ longest winning streak in five seasons, going back to December 2011.
 
“That's part of it, but the biggest thing was the saves we got,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “No doubt about that throughout the game. One of those nights where Mase was our best player.”
 
Mason had 42 saves, including a game-saver on Aaron Ekblad in overtime (see highlights).
 
Meanwhile, Wayne Simmonds continued his personal tear with another two-goal effort to give him 15 tallies on the season. One of the goals came on the power play as Simmonds now leads the NHL with eight power-play goals and 14 power-play points.
 
“I’m playing with great linemates and trying to give pucks up and get to the net,” Simmonds said. “It’s not all on me. It has a lot to do with my teammates.”
 
During the Flyers’ winning streak, Simmonds has seven points (five goals) as does Jakub Voracek, who nailed the game-winner with 8.6 seconds left in OT.
 
“Sometimes, it’s important for us if we don’t necessarily play great hockey, to win the game or get at least a point,” Voracek said. “That’s how you make it to the playoffs. Mase was outstanding with a lot of big saves. And we scored when we needed [to].”
 
Voracek notched the winner off a broken play from Claude Giroux.
 
“I was tired,” Voracek said. “It was a long hockey game. Three [games] in four [nights]. I lost the puck, G made the turnover happen and I knew if I turned around and shot it quick, he (goalie James Reimer) wouldn’t be able to get down.”
 
You’d never know this was a tired Panthers squad finishing up a six-game road trip given the way it out-skated and out-hustled the Flyers throughout the night.
 
“I think Florida played a great game. They played an outstanding game and they might have deserved better, but so many times this year we played teams and lost a game,” Voracek said. “So, it’s kind of good to get out of it [with a win].”
 
Florida outshot the Flyers, 14-3, at one point in the first period and led, 1-0, on Aleksander Barkov’s third goal in four games. He had a sweet give-and-go with Mark Pysyk across the high slot.
 
With less than three minutes remaining in the period, Reimer looked like a shortstop muffing a ground-ball hop as he fanned on Simmonds’ shot from 45 feet to tie the game. That was Simmonds’ first goal of the evening.
 
“I think the puck hit the top of their defenseman’s stick,” Simmonds said. “It was a lucky goal.”
 
Reimer made up for it during the second period with a sensational glove stab of Michael Raffl’s tip that was headed under the crossbar.
 
Yet he couldn’t do anything to stop Simmonds’ tip of Giroux’s shot from the high slot during a second-period power play.
 
Florida was energized for the third period while the Flyers tried to sit on that 2-1 lead. Mason stood on his head as he faced 17 shots.
 
“We have to change our mindset,” Simmonds said. “That’s the first time we’ve done that in a while.”
 
Mason had an incredible stop on Jussi Jokinen, but Jokinen got the tying goal nonetheless with 4:48 left in regulation to force overtime.
 
“It was a game where you had to come up with big saves,” Mason said. “Good game to come out with two points, but we all understand we have to be better.”
 
Speaking of better, rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov, evoking memories of Chris Therien, did a number on Jaromir Jagr to hold the all-time great without a point.
 
Also, that’s five games in a row now the Flyers haven’t allowed more than two goals. Don’t think that isn’t huge in their surge in the standings, as well as climbing out of their team goals-against hole.
 
“That’s unbelievable for us,” Simmonds said. “At the beginning of the year, to say we’d have five straight without giving up more than two would be a stretch.
 
“We’ve locked it down defensively and Mase has played unbelievable. We’ve been pretty good as five-man units.”