The Philadelphia Flyers came to life against the defending champion Colorado Avalanche on Monday.
Make that the injury-plagued Colorado Avalanche.
Travis Sanheim, Tanner Laczynski Tony DeAngelo (power play), Owen Tippett (power play) and Travis Konecny (empty net) scored goals as the Flyers jolted the Avs, 5-3, before one of the season’s loudest crowds at the Wells Fargo Center.
Colorado lost star center Nathan MacKinnon (33 points in 23 games) to a first-period injury, and he did not return. The Avs have now lost nine regulars to injuries, and they lead the NHL in man-games lost this season.
“We did a good job taking care of a shorthanded team,” said DeAngelo, whose team isn’t quite as beat up as Colorado.
Here are five quick observations:
1. Carter Hart rebounded from a poor game.
The Flyers goalie was coming off a 3-2 loss to New Jersey, one in which he blamed himself for the defeat.
Despite allowing two late goals, he was solid Monday. He stopped 29 of 32 shots. His best save may have been with 4:28 left in the second as he denied Martin Kaut’s backhander on a breakaway, preserving the Flyers’ 3-1 lead. Hart also made a terrific stop on Cale Makar as he broke in alone with a little over 12 minutes left in regulation.
Colorado trimmed a 4-1 lead to 4-3 as Mikko Rantanen and Alex Newhook scored 36 seconds apart in the waning minutes. But Travis Konecny (10th goal) secured the win with an empty-net goal with a minute left. .
2. Philly’s power play is finally showing good signs.
DeAngelo scored on a power-play blast as Noah Cates set a screen in front, increasing the Flyers’ lead to 3-1 with 16:01 to go in the second.
The Flyers entered the night last in the NHL on the power play (14.1%), but they have now scored with the extra man in two straight games. Before that, they went seven consecutive games without a PP goal, going 0 for 19 in that span.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) December 6, 2022
“I think it’s confidence and guys getting used to each other a little more,” DeAngelo said. “We’ve probably had the same power play unit for maybe 10 games all year out of the 26 we’ve played, so once you get together, get moving, just started feeling it and guys just start finding lanes.”
Owen Tippett (seventh goal) scored on a rebound from the left circle while the Flyers were on a power-play midway through the third, increasing the lead to 4-1.
The Flyers scored two power-play goals in a game for the first time this season. They went 2 for 3 in the game.
3. Crash the net and good things happen.
Joel Farabee’s left wing shot was turned away by Alexandar Georgiev, but hustling Tanner Laczynski crashed the net and scored on the rebound. That gave the Flyers a surprising 2-1 lead with 1:55 left in the opening period.
Farabee took a nice chip pass from Patrick Brown to put the rush in motion.
“I knew my angle probably wasn’t there to snipe it, so I had Laz [Laczynski] going to back door,” Farabee said. “A lot of credit to him for pumping his legs and getting there. So I just put it to a spot where he could get it.”
It was Laczynski’s second goal of the season — and in his career.
4. Defenseman Travis Sanheim gave the Flyers a much-needed boost.
Just when it seemed like Colorado was gaining momentum and you could envision a rout, Sanheim cruised in from the point and fired a seeing-eye shot through traffic that beat Colorado goalie Alexandar Georgiev. That tied the game at 1-1 in the first.
After a slow start, Sanheim (11 points) has been picking up his offense lately. He has three goals and nine points in his last nine games, including two points Monday.
5. Philly committed too many penalties.
The Flyers gave the Avs too many power-play opportunities. But the league’s best power play struggled after MacKinnon left the lineup.
After surrendering an early power-play goal, the Flyers killed off the next four penalties.
Colorado took a league-best power play (32.5%) into the game.
Scott Laughton and Kevin Hayes (seven shots) each had a pair of assists. … Brown blocked six shots and Nick Deslauriers had six hits. … The Flyers are 7-1-3 when scoring at least three goals. … Less than four minutes into the game, the Avs took a 1-0 lead as Newhook scored a power-play goal 17 seconds after Hayes’ holding penalty. … Philly has allowed the first goal in six straight games. … The Flyers host Washington on Wednesday, finishing their five-game homestand.