The Colorado Avalanche came into their first game after the All Star Break fresh from a bye week and riding a three-game win streak from prior to their playing hiatus. The Philadelphia Flyers, in comparison, played and lost against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night before facing the Avalanche at the tail end of a back-to-back.
It should have been an easy game for the Avalanche, who would be well rested against a particularly tired team struggling to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Instead, the Flyers turned on the scoring in the third period — and ushered the Avalanche back from their sizable vacation with a 6-3 loss for Colorado.
Five goals against for Philipp Grubauer and an admirable performance for Flyers call-up goaltender Alex Lyon combined with a deep offensive push from Philadelphia’s lineup to leave the visiting team skating out of the Wells Fargo Center without a much-needed two point effort.
The Avalanche kept the game even-paced through the first half of the opening period, putting early pressure on Lyon and withstanding some heavy hitting from the Philadelphia skaters.
At 13:45 of the first period, though, a shot by Matt Niskanen managed to bounce around in the traffic in front of Grubauer. And while he had been in perfect position for the initial shot, the puck deflected just wide of his right pad — and slid right in to give the Flyers the opening goal of the game.
Niskanen's shot pinballs in and the Flyers open the scoring! pic.twitter.com/GsDB2mLAVq— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) February 2, 2020
With just six seconds left in the period, Kevin Hayes managed to tip a puck in past Grubauer (once again on the blocker sider) to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead heading into the second period. And although the Avalanche managed to score twice in that period — goals by Valeri Nichushkin and Mikko Rantanen to bookend a third tally by the Flyers from Joel Farabee — they were badly outshot in the second to foreshadow an effort that would start to head downhill as the third period plodded on.
Both Joel Farabee and Kevin Hayes would pick up their second goals of the night during the final frame, with Farabee’s coming off a takeaway by center Sean Couturier and Hayes’ coming on a short-handed play.
Couturier with the steal and pass to Farabee for the goal! pic.twitter.com/SGsl5G08Gy— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) February 2, 2020
The Avalanche didn’t completely sleep off the third frame; Andre Burakovsky played a fantastic toe drag out to the open chunk of the net wide of Alex Lyon midway through the period to initially make it a 4-3 game:
The Hayes goal came just a handful of minutes after Burakovsky’s attempt to keep Colorado in the game, though, and an empty-net goal from Scott Laughton sealed their fate with a 6-3 final score.
- The Avalanche started the game off strong, pushing to pressure the unseasoned Lyon and keeping themselves in the game against a tired Flyers roster to start. But their ability to finish all 60 minutes when Philadelphia started giving some jump was sorely lacking — and it showed when the Flyers slowly gained control of the game through the final 30 or so minutes.
- It was far from Philipp Grubauer’s best effort, but it was nice to see Valeri Nichushkin get his ninth goal of the season. He’s never going to be the player he was his rookie season with Dallas, but he’s become more or less what the Avalanche were hoping that Nail Yakupov would manage to be last year when they brought him on. As a supplementary scorer with a heavy physical presence, he’s been a fantastic addition.