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Avalanche fall apart in third period again in loss to Flyers

AJ Haefele Avatar
December 15, 2016




The Philadelphia Flyers traveled to Denver tonight on a nine-game winning streak to take on the NHL’s worst home team, the Colorado Avalanche. Slow starts have become a hallmark of this struggling Avalanche squad and tonight was no different, although it could have been much worse (sup, Montreal?).

The Flyers had control of most of the first period but couldn’t beat Avalanche goaltender Calvin Pickard, who was filling in for Semyon Varlamov’s exploding groin. In his place, Pickard did a marvelous Varlamov impression in backstopping the Avalanche to a scoreless first period that saw the shots go 12-5 in favor of Philly.

The second period saw the scoring fireworks lacking in the first, beginning with a gorgeous passing play from the Flyers through the neutral and offensive zones that ended when defenseman Michael Del Zotto took advantage of apathetic forward defense from Mikhail Grigorenko and put home a rebound off his own shot. The opening goal of the game came just 4:01 into the period.

Colorado pushed back and finally broke through on Flyers netminder Steve Mason when Rene Bourque fired one past him with the aid of a moving screen from Gabriel Landeskog. The tying goal came at 12:14 and signified and interesting second half of the period to come.

A prolonged board battle in the Flyers’ defensive zone was eventually won by the Avalanche and Matt Duchene combined with Landeskog to get the puck to a wide open Nikita Zadorov, whose blast from the point resulted in a juicy rebound for Duchene. Colorado’s leading goal scorer made no mistake and put it into the open net, making it 2-1 and giving Duchene his first home goal of the season.

The Flyers wasted no time in tying the game as Wayne Simmonds took advantage of broken Avalanche team defense and scored on a breakaway goal just 23 seconds after Duchene’s goal. The Flyers scored again but it was correctly called no goal after review revealed it was scored via a high stick deflection. The game entered the third period tied at 2-2.

Colorado’s inability to get out of the first five minutes without getting scored on reared it’s ugly head again, this time courtesy of the kind of self-inflicted wounds that have regularly cost the Avalanche games this year. Bourque was trying to break the puck out of the defensive zone when he simply lost it and Roman Lyubimov fired a blind slap shot and beat Pickard. 3-2, Flyers just like that.

Colorado’s self-destruction wasn’t quite complete as Francois Beauchemin got smoked by Brayden Schenn, who scored not quite two minutes after the Lyubimov goal to make it 4-2 at the 5:16 mark of the third and put Colorado deep behind the eight ball.

Duchene scored his second of the game with just under five minutes remaining to bring the Avs to 4-3 but they missed out on several golden scoring chances in the dying moments of the game, falling 4-3 and giving Philadelphia their tenth consecutive win.


1. Brayden Schenn
2. Matt Duchene
3. Gabriel Landeskog


Schenn’s thorough undressing of a flat-footed and completely unprepared Beauchemin signified one of Colorado’s biggest problems: slow defensemen who make poor reads consistently allow easy goals to the opposition.


Bourque’s turnover that led to Lyubimov’s goal was atrocious, inexcusable, and the kind of play you don’t see made in the NHL because the guys who make those mistakes often don’t stick around long. Simply put, it was embarrassing.


chart1 chart


Colorado’s quick homestand concludes Friday night when the Florida Panthers come to town. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. local time.


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