The Avalanche certainly didn't give tonight's game away, making a huge bid to try and tie the game late in the third period. But sustained pressure from the Flyers proved to be too just too much for Colorado.
The game started off quite evenly matched, with shot attempts being roughly equal throughout the entire first period. It wasn't a particularly boring period, though, as there were a good number of chances at both ends of the ice. Still, given the number of power plays that each team got, you'd think that someone would have scored. Nope. But more on that later...
The Flyers decided that playing just as well as the Avalanche just wasn't all that fun, and kind of took off in the second period. They looked markedly better than the Avs, and really put Semyon Varlamov to the test. It was weird to see the Flyers so obviously control play, but it sure was welcome, particularly considering Colorado is pretty far ahead of them in the standings.
That play continued more or less into the third period, with Michael Raffl scoring about mid-way through to give the Flyers a two goal lead. The Avalanche pulled Varlamov with about four minutes (!) left in the third -- a strategy Patrick Roy has been employing lately -- and were able to finally squeeze one by Steve Mason. After that, Colorado came out incredibly strong, forcing Mason to make a ton of mindblowing saves. But the Flyers proved to be too much, and Claude Giroux finally iced the game with an empty netter.
*Lots of strange penalties tonight, including a stupid and dangerous kneeing call on Hartnell that he (ugh) committed in the offensive zone. But the weirdest one was a five-minute "checking from behind" doled out to Patrick Bordeleau after he leveled Brayden Schenn into the boards. It was a nasty hit for sure, but the resulting penalty seemed a tad excessive to be honest. Patrick Roy's neck veins concurred, and the Avalanche analysts on TV spent a long time talking about it between periods.
*At the start of the game, the Flyers power play was really freaking annoying. They just couldn't generate anything over consistent stretches, and squandered the aforementioned five-minute major when Wayne Simmonds committed his own infraction (which, ugh, happened in the offensive zone). Oh, and on one of their power plays, the best chance was a short-handed bid by Matt Duchene. Finally, they broke through when Mark Streit converted in the second, but man was I getting frustrated until then.
*Michael Raffl makes the fourth line look good as hell. Sure, the goal he scored tonight happened when he was on the ice with Sean Couturier and Steve Downie, but who cares? This kid looks good no matter who he plays with.
*Both goaltenders saw a hell of a lot of action tonight, and both were pretty darn good. Mason and Varlamov were forced to make a ton of really tough saves, and the fact that the second period ended with only one goal between them despite facing a combined 51 shots is a testament to that. Mason got the first star of the evening and deserved every bit of it, if only for his play in the final minutes of the third.
Comment of the Night
Miss you Max. Please don’t score tonight.