The Colorado Avalanche rolled into tonight's game against the Philadelphia Flyers in an unfamiliar position - down in the standings but holding the games in hand advantage. With every game critically important, the Avs could have easily overlooked tonight's contest in favor of getting ready for Saturday's mega tilt against the Minnesota Wild but the Avs came out flying in the first period, putting consistent pressure on Flyers goalie Steve Mason, even hitting the post once for good measure, but were unable to beat him
A scoreless first period would give way to a feisty, Philadelphia-dominated second period after the Avalanche got on the board when Mikhail Grigorenko hit Nick Holden's skate with a pass and the puck found its way into the net for the 1-0 Avalanche lead. In what would become a consistent theme throughout, the Flyers would respond quickly as a shot from the point would be deflected multiple times past Semyon Varlamov. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare would get credit for the goal.
The teams would trade punches after the second period horn with the game still tied 1-1 but uneasiness was rampant throughout the building as Colorado's third period woes were ever present in the back of everyone's mind. The Avs would assuage those fears early on as Andreas Martinsen danced and powered his way through the Flyers and made a pass to an open John Mitchell, who slipped it past Mason for the 2-1 Avalanche lead in the early going. The Avalanche, always too content with themselves when leading, would spend the rest of the night sitting back and hoping to win it.
Naturally, that isn't a formula for success so when the Flyers scored two goals in a 19 second span late in the third period to go up 3-2, nobody really was all that surprised. Radko Gudas would get the first of those goals with a bomb of a slapshot from the point that found its way past Varlamov and Claude Giroux would score the dagger goal on a broken play from Erik Johnson and Francois Beauchemin's insistence on blocking shots prevented Varlamov from making a save attempt and in the blink of an eye it was 3-2 Flyers.
The Flyers would predictably add an empty net goal with five seconds remaining to bring the final tally to 4-2.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Giroux's game-winning goal could be the dagger in Colorado's season when all is said and done.
The Gudas goal sucked the life out of an already nervous building and put the Avalanche on the all-too-familiar path of self-destruction in the third period.
BY THE NUMBERS
The loss, combined with a win by the Wild, put the Avalanche down by three points with one game in hand heading into this weekend's matchup between the two teams.
The Avalanche are next in action in perhaps the most hyped game of the season this Saturday, March 26, against the Minnesota Wild. Puck drop is scheduled for 1pm MST.