Following a perfect two weeks the Colorado Avalanche dropped their first game back at home Monday night in overtime and were determined to get back in the win column by hosting the suddenly surging Philadelphia Flyers. As the injured list began to thin this was the first game the Avalanche played with their full forward lineup in quite some time.
It was a battle of momentum swings between two hard-working, fast and skilled teams which saw each claim a period with over 70% of the shot attempts before settling into an even third period. The Avalanche eventually topped the Flyers 3-1 on a stellar team effort and two goals from sorely missed Mikko Rantanen.
After trading a few early chances it was the home team who got on the board first when Matt Calvert deposited a into the back of the net past Philadelphia goaltender Carter Hart just over five minutes into the first period.
It was then the Flyers who began the second period with the momentum but they just could not cash in. Carter Hart robbed Mikko Rantanen on his signature one time shot off the rush for the save of the night. But minutes later Rantanen finally got his goal at 16:05 on a driving tip on front of the net on a feed from Nathan MacKinnon. The play was started by Sam Girard’s fantastic stretch pass from the defensive zone and JT Compher got in on the passing play for a full-team effort on the score.
Rantanen was just heating up as he added an insurance marker to start the third period. This goal was created by a pass behind the net from Nazem Kadri and then Rantanen worked his magic to flip the puck for a tally. The goal came less than three minutes into the frame relieved some pressure from a furious Flyers comeback attempt.
Unfortunately with just over five minutes to go in the contest the shutout was denied for goaltender Pavel Francouz who started again as Philipp Grubauer just wasn’t ready to return to game action. Francouz made numerous high quality stops in this contest but the Avalanche opened the game up just a bit too much and allowed Claude Giroux to get to the front of the net and push a backhand shot past Francouz.
There was a final flurry from Philadelphia especially as they brought on the extra attacker with several minutes to go but the Avalanche held strong and picked up the 3-1 victory.
- Nathan MacKinnon was shifted all over the lineup for more than 20 minutes of time on ice and it paid dividends as he helped set up the first Rantanen goal plus multiple other scoring chances. In a game where Gabe Landeskog and Nazem Kadri looked rusty it was MacKinnon who provided a spark yet again.
- Pavel Francouz enjoyed a nice bounce back game after giving up five goals to the Calgary Flames. He stopped 32 shots in this contest and looked very focused and calm in net. This performance can give Grubauer the time he needs to feel completely ready to return in net.
- In Erik Johnson’s continued absence Nikita Zadorov keeps filling that all important minute munching role against top competition with nearly 23 minutes on the ice in this contest. That factor plus a major reduction in minor penalties taken Zadorov should be in consideration for a bigger role when Johnson does return.
The Avalanche conclude their three-game homestand against the New Jersey
Taylor Halls Devils at 7pm MT on Friday, December 13th.