It’s safe to say that the 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers was a wild one for the Colorado Avalanche.
Kicking off a four-game road trip, the Avs looked to continue building on the success of Thursday’s 4-3 shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs as they took the ice in Philadelphia.
Things didn’t quite go according to plan early and, despite a deadlock through the majority of the first 20 minutes, the Avalanche fell behind with a handful of seconds remaining in the frame. Claude Giroux scored the first of his two power-play goals with just 2.9 ticks left on the game clock; the tally coming after Nathan MacKinnon was given a five-minute major for boarding.
“It’s too bad we’re down one-nothing. I think we feel like we could be up one-nothing,” said Matt Duchene at intermission. “It’s a big hole to fill for our team. Obviously, [MacKinnon is] one of our best players. Unfortunate call there.”
The penalty would prove costly for the Avs, who went down 2-0 early in the second period after Wayne Simmonds scored another power-play point less than three minutes into the stanza.
By the end of the middle period, the Avalanche trailed the Flyers 4-0 and the majority of action on the Colorado side of the puck came from a one-sided fight between Jarome Iginla and his contender, Brayden Schenn.
The ice was tilting at Wells Fargo Center and the Avalanche needed a spark to get going.
Fire met ice early on in the final period, and the Colorado deluge carried on throughout the remaining 20 minutes. Maxime Talbot kicked off the comeback with a blistering clapper from the faceoff dot that beat Flyers goaltender Steve Mason top shelf on the far side of the net.
The goal served as a rallying call for the Avs, who flooded the Philadelphia zone, bombarded Mason with pucks and put the next one home just over four minutes later. Alex Tanguay got the second tally with a tough-angle shot that snuck through Mason’s pads and into the goal.
The incredible turnaround continued from there with the Avalanche pulling within a goal with less than 10 minutes remaining after a brilliant play from Talbot forced a turnover in the Flyers zone. Talbot then dished the puck to rear guard Zach Redmond, who beat his lone defender with a shot that snuck past Mason and found twine.
Ultimately the comeback fell short, with Colorado unable to overcome MacKinnon’s early penalty. The Avs were sniffing the tie in the waning minutes but failed to follow through, even with a 6-on-4 chance late in the game while goaltender Reto Berra was on the bench.
“We had our chances. I mean obviously our power play could have scored a big one for us at the end of the game, and we just could not,” said head coach Patrick Roy after the contest. “Their power play scored three goals and ours had a chance at the end to tie the game, and we just couldn’t score that one. Have to admit that their ‘D’ made some good blocks, especially on [John] Mitchell toward the end.”
Berra had another solid showing in the Avalanche net, but he fell victim to the Flyers power play, which went 3-for-6 on the night—two goals were scored on MacKinnon’s major and another came during a 5-on-3 chance. Berra finished with 23 stops.
All of Colorado’s goals came at even strength.
The result certainly wasn’t what the team wanted but the effort in the third period—that never-say-die attitude that was on display—is definitely what the coaching staff wants to see each and every night. The Avs had 21 shots on goal to Philly’s six in the third period.
“I’m very happy [with] the way we fought. We came back in that game, and we played hard,” said Roy. “I was very pleased with this. I thought we played really well five-on-five.”
The Avs return to action on Tuesday with a rematch against the New York Islanders, which will be looking for revenge after a 5-0 drubbing at Pepsi Center last month. The puck drops at 5 p.m. MT.