Add 2022 Stanley Cup champion Colorado to the list of heavyweight contenders the Flyers have unexpectedly knocked off this season.
The Flyers rolled into Denver looking to neutralize the Avalanche’s speedy, potent offense and they did just that with a 5-2 win on Saturday night at Ball Arena.
The second of Travis Konecny’s two goals, this one on a penalty shot, and another goal by Joel Farabee broke open a close 3-2 game. Konecny scored on the penalty shot at 9:31. Then less than a minute later Farabee popped in a rebound at 10:17 to give the Flyers some breathing room.
Philadelphia won its fourth straight game, improved to 2-0 on this three-game road trip and held a road opponent to three goals or under for the 11th straight game. The Flyers are 9-4-1 away from the Wells Fargo Center and 15-10-2 overall for the season.
Goaltender Carter Hart, whose 93rd career win moved him into a tie for fourth on the franchise list, saved some of his best work for the third period when the game was on the line.
It was difficult for coach John Tortorella to find anything wrong with this effort, especially that of Konecny’s, who scored two goals for the second straight game.
“He’s just a really good player,” said Tortorella. “He knows he’s a good player. When his mind is straight and he doesn’t get caught up in all the antics of it all, he does so many things for the hockey team. It’s fun to watch him play.”
Even though the Flyers are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, the coach wants everyone to keep their cool. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played between now and April.
“A good, solid road win,” Tortorella said. “Everybody contributed.”
Taking down Colorado might have been a good test for this rebuilding Flyers squad.
“I don’t think we were overwhelmed,” the coach said. “That’s a good club we played against. We just played. I thought we did a good job when we didn’t create offense we checked really well.
“We’re excited about our team right now, the way we’re playing. It doesn’t change a dot at all as far as how we have to change our team as far as how we have to build. We’re trying to win games no matter what. As far as the philosophy of where we’re going with this team (rebuilding), that’s not going to change.”
Konecny connected at 17:41 of the first period off assists from Sean Couturier and Tyson Foerster for a 1-0 lead. His shot eluded goalie Ivan Prosvetov. The Avalanche came right back, getting a goal from Nathan MacKinnon, who circled around Rasmus Ristolainen and fired a shot off Hart and into the net at 18:59.
The Flyers went back into the lead at 9:01 of the second period. Owen Tippett took a feed from Bobby Brink and sent the rebound of his initial shot past Prosvetov.
After Travis Sanheim’s goal off a Morgan Frost feed from behind the net at 11:17, Colorado got back to within one when an accidental screen by defenseman Nick Seeler on Hart allowed Josh Manson to score from long range at 12:28.
Hart was sharp near the end of the second period when he faced a shorthanded breakaway and sprawled to turn the scoring chance away.
No doubt the turning point of the game came when Konecny was tripping going to the net on a breakaway. He was awarded the penalty shot, moved in slowly and ripped a shot off Prosvetov’s left pad.
“It (the win) was just a great effort,” he said. “It just shows that when we stick with it, we’ll give ourselves opportunities to be in games.
“We knew it was a great test for us tonight. I think it’s great for our group. It gives us the belief we’re a hard team to play against. We believe we can be in these types of games.”
>Flyers go with seven defensemen
With center Ryan Poehling still ailing, the Flyers chose to go with seven defensemen for the first time this season. Marc Staal returned to the lineup. Sanheim said in a second intermission interview it didn’t hurt to have an extra D-man with the Flyers playing in the thin air of mile-high Denver.
“It’s a little different, we haven’t done it this year,” Sanheim said. “If we were to do it in anyplace, this is probably it with the altitude. Sometimes you need to catch your breath for an extra minute or two.”
“I think just the ability to defend, they come at you with a lot of speed,” Sanheim said. “We’re just trying hard to limit them as much we can. They have a ton of skill. I think we’ve done a good job so far.”
Couturier played in his 746th game as a Flyer, tying him with Joe Watson for fifth place on the team’s all-time list. . .Konecny’s goal was his eighth in the first period this season, which puts him in a tie for fourth in the NHL this season . . . The Flyers next head to Nashville for a Tuesday night game against the Predators to complete their three-game road trip. . .Brink returned to Denver, where he played hockey for the University of Denver and won an NCAA Division I scoring title. . .The Flyers went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen as center Ryan Poehling continued to battle an illness.. .Philadelphia won at Ball Arena for the first time since March, 2018.