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Flyers hang on to top Avalanche for third win in row

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers will be able to enjoy their upcoming five-day break a bit more now.

The Flyers led 4-0 after two periods and survived a strong push in the third period by the Colorado Avalanche for a 4-3 victory Saturday at Wells Fargo Center.

Claude Giroux scored two power-play goals, and Jakub Voracek had three assists to lead the Philadelphia offense. Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn each scored a goal for the Flyers, who have won three in a row. Goaltender Steve Mason made 36 saves, including 18 in the third period, when the Avalanche scored three times to make it a one-goal game.

The Flyers scored three power-play goals on six attempts. It was the first time they scored three extra-man goals since Dec. 28, 2013, against the Edmonton Oilers. Philadelphia had been 0-for-12 on the power play in their previous five games.

However, it was the Flyers penalty kill that helped preserve the lead when Braydon Coburn took a holding penalty with 2:49 remaining in the third period. Avalanche coach Patrick Roy pulled goalie Reto Berra for a 6-on-4 advantage, but Mason made three saves, including back-to-back stops on quality chances by John Mitchell and Jamie McGinn.

"Great kill in the end," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "Great kill. Power play was excellent, but penalty kill was really, really good."

After the Avalanche power play ended, they kept pushing but the Flyers did just enough to hold them at bay. Simmonds blocked a Mitchell shot with eight seconds left and then Nicklas Grossmann got into the crease to block another chance by Mitchell with two seconds left.

"They were coming," Mason said. "You just try to take it save by save, hope we can get a clear. Had some big blocks; [Grossmann] made a huge one with a couple seconds to go right in the crease. I was off to the right and coming back to the center, went off his shin pad and into the corner. At times like that guys come up with huge plays. They don't always get the credit, but that's what wins hockey games."

Roy thought the difference in special-teams play was the difference in the game. The Avalanche went 0-for-4 on the power play.

"We had our chances," Roy said. "Our power play could have scored a big one for us at the end of the game. Their power play scored three goals, and ours had a chance at the end to tie the game, and we couldn't score that one."

Colorado had killed 30 of 31 penalties over the past eight games entering Saturday.

Maxime Talbot had a goal and an assist, and Alex Tanguay and Zach Redmond scored for the Avalanche. Berra allowed four goals on 27 shots.

"I'm very happy at the way we fought," Roy said. "We came back in that game and we played hard."

The news wasn't all good for the Flyers. Defenseman Luke Schenn left the game because of an upper-body injury sustained on a hit from behind by Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon in the final minute of the first period. The Flyers had no update on Schenn's condition after the game.

The Flyers took advantage by scoring twice with MacKinnon serving a five-minute major for boarding. Giroux got the Flyers going, scoring through a Simmonds screen with 2.9 seconds left in the first period, and then Simmonds made a strong power move from behind the Colorado net to score in front early in the second.

"We've been getting chances [on the power play]," Simmonds said. "We've been getting shots. Just haven't been putting pucks in the net. Big sigh of relief when that first one went in, and then we just kept going."

Brayden Schenn's goal made it 3-0 at 11:24 of the second, and then Giroux scored again off a shot-fake by Vincent Lecavalier at 16:22 of the second.

"We did a lot of good things to get that big lead," Giroux said. "Then we sat back again. Need to find a way to keep pushing and playing the same way."

Voracek had secondary assists on the three power-play goals. It extended his scoring streak to eight games. It also was his seventh multipoint game in 14 games this season; he had 16 multipoint games in 82 games last season.

That was all the offense the Flyers could muster. Colorado pushed hard in the third, outshooting Philadelphia 21-6.

Talbot's first goal in 28 games started the scoring, and then Tanguay finished a 2-on-1 to make it 4-2. Redmond's goal, set up by Talbot knocking the Flyers' R.J. Umberger off the puck in the Philadelphia end, made it 4-3.

Berube called a timeout and gave his players simple instructions.

"I said, 'Listen, you've got to start playing. It's nothing more than that. I can't sit here and draw up a play for you guys to get out of it. Just play,'" Berube said.

The Flyers came out of the timeout and played just well enough that they'll go into their extended break with some positive feelings.

"You would have been thinking about it a lot," Berube said. "It'll be a better five days with a win."


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