Mikko Rantanen

Shorthanded Flyers can't keep up with Avalanche to begin road trip

Shorthanded Flyers can't keep up with Avalanche to begin road trip

BOX SCORE

From the moment it was announced that Oskar Lindblom would miss Wednesday night's game, the Flyers' chances at Pepsi Center felt bleak.

No Lindblom, no Travis Konecny and facing the NHL's highest-scoring team in its building was not a promising script for the Flyers, who lost to the Avalanche, 3-1.

In stretches this season, the Flyers have struggled to bury goals. And that has been with Lindblom and Konecny — their two leading goal-scorers at 11 apiece — in the lineup.

The Flyers (17-9-5) did some good things but Colorado finished plays behind its world class talent up top.

The Avalanche (20-8-3) are on an eight-game point streak (7-0-1) in which they've scored 4.13 goals per game.

• Without Konecny (concussion) and Lindblom (upper body), the Flyers had difficulty putting the puck in the net. They were going to have to put up some goals against the Avalanche, who entered scoring an NHL-best 3.70 goals per game. For the second time in the last three games, the Flyers scored only one goal.

The lone tally came from Claude Giroux when the Flyers were trailing 3-0 with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.

• Following a first period in which they survived, especially in the back half of it thanks to Carter Hart, the Flyers actually played a solid second period. At one point during the middle stanza, the Flyers were outshooting Colorado 11-0.

But as the Flyers kept pushing to no avail, the Avalanche changed the whole complexion of the period with one play by their two best weapons. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen hooked up for a nasty marker to make it 2-0 with 3:55 left in the period, a deflating goal to allow for the Flyers (see highlights).

Considering Colorado was 14-0-1 when leading after the middle period, the Flyers were in a serious hole, even after a hard-working period.

• Hart, who entered 8-2-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .928 save percentage over his last 12 starts, faced the Avalanche for the first time in his career.

He made a highlight-reel save and gave the Flyers a fighting chance in tough circumstances.

The 21-year-old has been impressive during the first period all season long, allowing the Flyers to find their legs and rhythm. He converted 12 of his 24 saves in the opening stanza against Colorado.

On the Avalanche's first-period goal, Scott Laughton won a defensive zone faceoff but the Flyers failed to clear the puck, resulting in Matt Calvert's tally.

Rantanen added his second goal early in the third period and that was pretty much the game.

Colorado goalie Pavel Francouz, who came in 5-0-1 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .926 save percentage over his last eight games (six starts), finished with 32 stops.

• When Philippe Myers (back spasms, day to day) is ready to return, Robert Hagg should be the odd man out on defense. Shayne Gostisbehere has found some of his offensive mojo and Myers has shown way too much promise to be sitting when healthy.

A stay-at-home guy like Hagg was far too noticeable against the Avalanche. He committed a penalty and was a minus-2 in 15:21 minutes.

• David Kase was summoned to Denver this morning to make his NHL debut and become the ninth rookie to play for the Flyers this season

The 22-year-old winger had a nice scoring chance and two shots in 7:47 minutes. 

• The Flyers head to the old stomping grounds of general manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant general manager Brent Flahr when they visit the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Fletcher was the GM in Minnesota from 2009 to 2018 and Flahr was his AGM from 2010 to 2018.

The Flyers have not lost consecutive games in regulation since Oct. 27-29.

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More on the Flyers

Best of NHL: Rantanen notches first hat trick as Avalanche blank Canadiens

Best of NHL: Rantanen notches first hat trick as Avalanche blank Canadiens

DENVER -- Mikko Rantanen scored three times for his first career hat trick, Calvin Pickard stopped 27 shots and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 on Tuesday night.

Andreas Martinsen added a goal as the last-place Avalanche posted back-to-back wins for the first time since November. Even more, it's the first time all season they've won two straight at home.

Pickard picked up his second shutout of the season, withstanding a late flurry at the end. He also had an assist.

All-Star goaltender Carey Price wasn't sharp early, giving up two quick goals, and the Canadiens never recovered. This after routing Colorado 10-1 on Dec. 10 in Montreal (see full recap).

Flames edge Crosby, Penguins in shootout
PITTSBURGH -- Kris Versteeg scored the only goal in the shootout and the Calgary Flames recovered after a furious third-period rally by the Pittsburgh Penguins to get a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night.

Chad Johnson stopped 31 shots in regulation and then turned away Pittsburgh's Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby in the shootout. The Penguins' Kris Letang hit the post on his team's final attempt.

Michael Frolik scored his 13th goal of the season and Micheal Ferland added his eighth as Calgary picked up two valuable points in the crowded chase for one of the final playoff spots in the wide-open Western Conference.

Crosby inched closer to becoming the 86th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 points when he assisted on Chris Kunitz's third-period goal for career point No. 999. Rookie forward Jake Guentzel forced overtime with his fifth of the season with just under five minutes remaining. Matt Murray made 28 saves but had no chance on Versteeg's beautiful deke in the shootout (see full recap).

Red-hot Capitals blast Hurricanes
WASHINGTON -- Alex Ovechkin got his 26th goal of the season, Braden Holtby gave the Capitals another steady performance in net and Washington beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-0 on Tuesday night for its fourth straight victory.

Brett Connolly, Lars Eller, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson also scored for Washington, which picked up its second consecutive shutout. Holtby stopped 23 shots in an easy outing two days after backup Philipp Grubauer made 38 saves to shut out the Los Angeles Kings.

Holtby's seventh shutout of the season ties him with the Kings' Peter Budaj for the NHL lead. It's his fourth in 12 games.

With goaltender Eddie Lack making his first start since Nov. 6 after being plagued by concussion problems, the Hurricanes couldn't mount much of an attack to support him. Lack allowed five goals on 28 shots as Carolina's winning streak ended at three (see full recap).