Varlamov leads Avalanche past short-handed Flyers

Image courtesy of Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers put forth a valiant effort, but Semyon Varlamov and the Colorado Avalanche did enough to edge out the 2-1 win at home to snap the Flyers’ four-game winning streak. Varlamov bailed out his team several times in a 29-save effort, as both Jamie McGinn and Ryan O’Reilly scored tonight for the host team. Steve Mason made just as many saves, but unfortunately saw one more shot on the night, as Wayne Simmonds had the lone marker for the Orange and Black.

With Matt Read already out of the lineup, Philadelphia suffered another setback when Michael Raffl was concussed by a Gabriel Landeskog check from behind in the first period. On top of these injuries to a pair of key players, Sean Couturier had a rough first half of the game with two penalties and a costly neutral zone turnover. Despite the injuries and a less-than-ideal performance from another important cog on the roster, the Flyers fought throughout the contest and nearly produced another late-game miracle to pull out at least a point.

Varlamov did more than enough to hand Colorado the two points, as he limited his rebounds and denied his former teammate Steve Downie on possibly the Flyers’ two best chances on the evening. After stoning him on a clear breakaway in the first period, Varlamov made a ridiculous save by reaching back his right leg pad to deny a Downie slam dunk in the second period. If it wasn’t for the stellar play from Simmonds to both completely block the goalie’s vision on a shot from the point while deflecting it past him, Varlamov could have recorded his second shutout of the season.

The Avalanche came out flying, but the Flyers managed to progressively slow them down throughout the tilt, although there were segments of the game where Colorado cycled in the Flyers’ zone for huge chunks of time. Despite the cycling, Mason and company kept their deficit from growing.

Although they killed off an early surge and a Couturier tripping minor, the Orange and Black still allowed the game’s first goal. Couturier provided an uncharacteristic turnover in the neutral zone to start an odd-man rush for Colorado led by Erik Johnson. The former St. Louis Blue tossed a pass to the slot for Matt Duchene, who was stoned by Mason. Unfortunately for Philly, McGinn was there to put home the rebound to make it 1-0 for the hosts. Tye McGinn’s older brother potted his eighth of the season 11:14 into the affair.

Philly couldn’t take advantage of a Cody McLeod holding call shortly after McGinn’s goal and didn’t do anything with a McLeod delay-of-game penalty a few minutes into the second period.

The Flyers were playing pretty evenly with the Avalanche despite being down a few players, but a bad-angle goal from O’Reilly put the visitors down by a two-goal deficit against a team that knows how to hang on to a lead. O’Reilly’s 14th of 2013-2014 came below the dot to Mason’s right and hit the goaltender in the right shoulder before popping up and over Mason into the net 9:17 into the middle period.

Less than five minutes later, Simmonds provided the screen and tip on an Andrej Meszaros shot from the point to cut the deficit to one with 6:12 left in the second stanza. After Scott Hartnell worked for the puck in the corner to Varlamov’s right he tossed it to Meszaros at the opposite point. Meszaros skated with the puck for a bit before letting go of a wrist shot that Simmonds was able to jump out of the way of and deflect while blocking Varlamov’s vision. The former Washington Capital didn’t know where the puck was when Simmonds provided his 13th of the season.

In the final minutes of the game, the Flyers came very close to tying the game with Mason pulled for the sixth skater. Vincent Lecavalier perhaps had the best opportunity, as he had one of Varlamov’s few rebounds come to him with a fairly wide open net. Unfortunately for him and the Flyers, he wasn’t quite able to get a clean shot off thanks to his positioning and a defensive poke check from an Avalanche defender.

The Flyers will look to rebound from the loss and win their fourth game on the road trip Saturday night, as they visit the Phoenix Coyotes.

Notes: The Flyers dropped to 3-1-0 on their current road trip with two games remaining before they return home…With a goal tonight, Simmonds has scored in five of the Flyers’ last eight games…Hartnell extended his point streak to six games with the secondary assist on Simmonds’ goal. He has two goals and five assists during the streak…Meszaros now has points in back-to-back games. It’s the first time he has recorded points in back-to-back games since March 18th and 24th last season…Couturier handed the opposition two power plays for the first time since April 15th, 2013…The Avalanche improved to 19-1-2 when scoring first and to 14-0-1 when leading after the first period…Downie was minus-1 with two shots on goal in 17:04 TOI against his former team. Max Talbot had two PIMs, a shot on goal, and two hits in 15:25 TOI and Nate Guenin was plus-1 with two shots on goal and six hits in 18:07 TOI against their former team…The Flyers dropped to 0-1-0 against the Avalanche this season. They are now 7-7-1 against the Western Conference and 3-4-1 against the Central Division…Philly dropped to 20-17-4 on the season. They were 17-21-3 after 41 games last year.