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MacKinnon, Francouz lead the way as Avalanche cruise past Flyers

Not an ideal start to the old road trip as it begins with a 3-1 loss in Colorado with visits to Minnesota and Winnipeg to come.

Philadelphia Flyers v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

While the Avalanche were playing hockey the Flyers were using soccer skills to also do that hockey as Sean Couturier kicked a Jakub Voracek pass across crease. Claude Giroux couldn’t get a stick on the setup, though, which stinks because it would have been really cool.

They’d want that one back as Matt Calvert picked up a loose puck off the post to make it 1-0 Avs 5:31 in. It was the Colorado depth line doing the honors on this one, not great considering the firepower elsewhere in the lineup.

Sean Couturier would try and respond midway through the first, but Pavel Francouz (no really that’s the name) was there to make a smooth pad save. Flyers weren’t really challenging the definitely real goalie much early.

Trying to extend their lead, Carter Hart would deny Matt Nieto two or three times on one shift as the Avs’ checking line surged once again. Nieto had four shots in the first 15 minutes, while the Flyers had eight total.

They’d try again with seconds left, but the Avs would hit a post behind Hart and this one wouldn’t fall on a stick as Tyson Jost was denied by the metal. After one, Calvert is the lone goal as the Avs lead 1-0.

Kevin Hayes had a good chance to even things early in the second, but his shot went wide and hit Robert Hagg next to the net causing a mad scramble that Francouz would cover.

After an uneven first period spent chasing the Avs, the Flyers got their cycle game going in the second to slow things down and gain zone time. Couturier’s line also started to lean on the Colorado defense, which didn’t hurt things.

Chris Steward of all people would get the next scoring chance with 12 minutes left in the period, but the Avs’ goaltender sprawled out to convince the refs to blow the whistle as the puck got lost in the shuffle.

With 6:22 left in the second it was time for another gospel from the Church of Hart. Just see below and enjoy some larceny of Mikko Rantanen.

But Hart’s heroics would not extend to to denying Rantanen again, as Nathan MacKinnon found the high-scoring Fin with a perfect pass to make it 2-0 Avs with less than four to go in the second.

Rantanen’s tally would be the only in the second as the Avs kept their lead at two with 20 minutes to play and the Flyers searching for a way through Francouz.

But it would be the Avs to strike early in the third, with Rantanen finding the back of the net again off a nice feed from Nazem Kadri to make it 3-0. Matt Niskanen couldn’t get to the man and the Flyers paid the price, facing an insurmountable lead with 17:10 left.

Justin Braun would be the next to test Francouz, but the netminder had another answer to send the Flyers away again with a little over 10 minutes left. At this point it was about the Flyers just getting one to feel good about the rest of the road trip.

The captain would provide just that, cleaning up a loose puck in front of the Colorado net and tucking it past Francouz to make it 3-1. The Flyers would need two more, but their leader gave them a start with 5:12 left to get it done.

Alain Vigneault would pull Hart with three minutes left to try and facilitate a few more goals to salvage a point. They would score no more, though, and fall by a final of 3-1 at the hands of the Avalanche to start a three-game road swing.

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