PHILADELPHIA – That 5-2 Colorado Avalanche lead at the start of the third period looked about as insurmountable as a Rocky Mountain.
But the Flyers, putting on their never-say-quit facial expressions, scored twice early in the final session and made a game out of Saturday afternoon’s contest at the Wells Fargo Center.
The rally, however, came up just short and the Flyers’ five-game winning streak came to an end with a 7-4 loss.
However, Philadelphia was able to hang onto second place in the Metropolitan Division in part because the third-place Carolina Hurricanes were idle.
Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon took over the NHL scoring lead by registering two goals and three assists for the winners.
“Pucks were going in for them,” coach John Tortorella said. “They’re a good team scoring goals. They’re one of the top goal-scoring teams in the league.”
The Flyers had a lot of momentum going for them after their two-goal rally but couldn’t quite finish the job. One more defensive stop, one more crazy-hop goal might have pulled the Flyers even and then anything goes.
“Yeah, you can nit-pick all you want,” said Cam Atkinson. “They have one of the best power plays in the league. There’s only so much you can do. I thought we did a pretty good job overall. We played with a lot of confidence. Found a way to crawl back into it a little bit. We’ll take some things we did really well and move on. Ultimately, we didn’t get the job done.”
Other Flyers were of a similar opinion.
“It felt like too many turnovers,” Morgan Frost said. “Especially with some of their dangerous guys. At the same time I felt like we carried most of the play (shot advantage of 39-24). I guess that’s just kind of the way it goes sometimes. I don’t think it (the loss) is going to bother our group at all. We felt like we were going to come back that whole third period.
“I think we made a good push. Then we just got a little unlucky there.”
MacKinnon scored on a breakaway with a shot past starting goaltender Carter Hart just 43 seconds into the second period for a 3-0 Avalanche lead.
Later, as the period was coming to a close, MacKinnon connected on a 40-foot shot from the top of the slot to make it 5-2 Avs at 17:05.
In between the two goals, the Flyers picked up goals from Joel Farabee and Travis Konecny.
Farabee scored at 1:49 with a shot past goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. He converted a fine set-up pass from Morgan Frost as the centerman circled out from behind the net. Colorado countered with the second of three goals for the game from Logan O’Connor, who rushed down the right side and finished off a pass from Miles Wood at 8:14 to make it 4-1.
Konecny got that one back when his long shot made its way through a screen and past Georgiev at 12:23. It was Konecny’2 22nd goal of the season.
In the third period, Samuel Ersson replaced Hart in goal for the Flyers.
A goal by Tyson Foerster at 5:26 off a Frost drop pass took the score to 5-3 Colorado. Then Cam Atkinson made it interesting with a goal at 8:11.
But Mikko Rantanen restored the Avs’ two-goal lead at 12:23 on a power play.
Despite getting only five shots on goal in the first period, the Avalanche made two of them count for a 2-0 lead.
The first goal came on a double deflection and needed to survive a review before it officially counted. After a win on a faceoff, Avs defenseman Sam Malinski uncorked a shot from the point. The puck deflected off Russ Colton’s stick, then off O’Connor’s skate before eluding Hart at 9:58.
Officials checked to make sure O’Connor did not propel the puck into the net with a kicking motion before allowing the play to stand.
Colorado’s second goal came just after a Flyer penalty ended. MacKinnon set up shop in the left corner and spotted Rantanen open in the far circle. His shot beat Hart at 18:36.
The Flyers had several good scoring chances but couldn’t get a puck past Georgiev.
The Flyers’ Owen Tippett left the game approximately 90 seconds into the third period with what appeared to be an ankle injury after a collision with Colorado’s Jonathan Drouin. The Flyers would only call it a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.
The Flyers return to action Sunday afternoon, 1 p.m. when they play host to the Ottawa Senators and former Flyers captain Claude Giroux. . .For the rest of the season the Flyers play only seven more games against the Western Conference and just one of them is on the road.