One more stop on the road trip before the ambulance heads home as the Colorado Avalanche faced the reeling Philadelphia Flyers. But it was the Avalanche who had to deal with yet another couple of blows to both their lineup and on the scoreboard in this 5-3 loss to Philadelphia.
The lineup the Avalanche were forced to ice must be appreciated in full glory before getting to the action. And yet, it will get worse before it gets better.
It was an active first period as Alex Newhook scored quickly on the first Colorado power play at 3:50 on a nice tip in front of the net to celebrate his 100th NHL game. The lead did not last long, however, as Philadelphia answered back at 7:29 on a screened shot from Travis Sanhiem after Mikko Rantanen broke his stick during the play.
Despite the Avalanche putting 15 shots on goal and generating the better scoring chances it was the Flyers who took the lead on a Tanner Laczynski goal when he beat the Avalanche defense down the ice on a rush and put the puck past Alexandar Georgiev at 18:05.
Another unfortunate turn of events in the first period was the loss of Nathan MacKinnon who looked uncomfortable after a series of hits who then up and left the bench during the middle of the frame. He would not return to the game after what was described as an upper body injury.
Any resolve the Avalanche started the game with dissipated in the second period when they could only muster five shots on goal despite getting multiple power play opportunities. Philadelphia, which owns the league’s worst power play, got one on the board on their own man advantage in the frame when Tony DeAngelo got another puck through traffic on Georgiev and into the back of the net at 3:59. The only Avalanche highlight was Martin Kaut creating a breakaway but Carter Hart made a great save and the Flyers took a 3-1 lead into the second intermission.
There was marginal improvement in the third period but the only excitement which materialized for the visitors was another injury scare when Newhook took a puck in face but he continued to stay in the game despite bleeding from his cheek. Philadelphia conjured up another power play goal at 9:54 from Owen Tippett to put the game fully out of reach with a three-goal lead.
Mikko Rantanen who was a bit less than engaged in this contest managed to give the Avalanche something to believe in with goal off the rush with a weird deflection past Hart at 17:47. Jared Bednar decided to pull Georgiev immediately and the Avalanche got a quick goal from Newhook at 18:23 with the extra attacker. Travis Konecny restored the two-goal lead for Philadelphia with an empty net goal with a minute left in the game and the come back bid was over. 5-3 final in favor of the Flyers.
While the Avalanche played out of sorts and uninspired at times they generated enough offense to have a shot at winning this game. Philadelphia blocked 30 shots and were able to just clog all the shooting lanes enough to thwart the Avalanche attack once they got the lead. The Avalanche also needed to convert more than one of their five power plays to keep the pressure on. With 5v5 scoring becoming so difficult for this team they are leaning on the power play more than ever and have to convert on more of their chances.
Predictably Bednar did not provide much of an update on Nathan MacKinnon after the game only saying he will be further evaluated. Artturi Lehkonen was described as day-to-day and the same for Jean-Luc Foudy who will certainly have to earn another call up before seeing the Avalanche lineup again after missing time. Hopefully once the team returns home a full injury update on all on the shelf will be provided.
No team can overcome losing five top six forwards and enduring a nightly lineup shuffle while constantly playing a man short. But until just recently this team has been treading water and still picking up wins. It’s hard not to wonder if better preparation over the summer to shore up depth might have mitigated this injury crisis just a touch. But for now all the Avalanche can do is wait for talent to return to the lineup, whenever that may be.
Back at home for a rematch with the Boston Bruins at 7 p.m. MT on Wednesday, December 7th.