Now and again, the Philadelphia Flyers (15-10-2) will face an opponent who serves a new litmus test. Michal Neuvirth and Petr Mrazek combined for the last victory in Colorado in 2018. Carter Hart helped break that streak, 5-2, against the Colorado Avalanche (16-9-2).
John Tortorella enunciated the importance of keeping above the puck before the game. Recognizing and anticipating via positioning helped mitigate the damage from Nathan MacKinnon:
“It’s just being above the puck. We’ve been more consistent since that Rangers game; we haven’t had many games where we were cheating. Anticipating offense is a really big part of our team right now. I think we’ve explored that and we’re really good at it. It’s our job as coaches when we start getting three flat and hanging over on the weak side, hoping the play gets there instead of starting back; that’s where odd-man rushes start happening.”
Here’s how it all happened at the Ball Center in Denver, CO:
Philadelphia Flyers at Colorado Avalanche
Entering the matchup, Hart and Ivan Prosvetov had comparable numbers, though Prosvetov came with a smaller sample size. Joel Farabee did test Prosvetov with the first shot on goal for the Flyers. MacKinnon almost snuck the puck past Hart, too. Defensively, Cam York stopped Miles Wood in front of Hart at the crease.
Owen Tippett served a minor penalty for hooking, drawn by MacKinnon. Hart kept making saves on the penalty kill, and Travis Sanheim helped with the deep clear. The Avalanche rank 19th on the powerplay, which is outrageous considering the speed and skating on the ice from Cale Makar and MacKinnon. Philadelphia went 2/2 on the penalty kill (6th in NHL).
Hart faced pressure after the successful penalty kill, losing his stick momentarily. Scott Laughton made the veteran play, noticing his goaltender lost his stick, and iced the puck for a reset at a defensive zone faceoff circle.
Tyson Foerster chipped the puck backhand into the offensive zone. Sean Couturier gathered the puck, controlled it, and led Travis Konecny backhanded, who scored on a wrist shot, 1-0, with 2:19 remaining in the first period.
“It’s an undercover play that probably no one really noticed, but he [Couturier] knocked that bouncing puck out of the air to keep the play alive, and made a great play.”Travis Konecny; 12/9/2023
MacKinnon answered. He swept down the wing, blew past Rasmus Ristolainen, and the puck got past Hart, 1-1, with 1:01 remaining in the first period.
One of the crucial points Tortorella pointed out about the Flyers in Colorado was how they start each period. Morgan Frost jumped out in the second period with an electric scoring chance, but Prosvetov turned him down. At the opposite end of the ice, Sanheim matched with Makar, separating his stick from the puck.
Tippett made up for his earlier penalty. Bobby Brink allowed Tippett to streak past him in the neutral zone, passing on entry. Tippett, with speed, zoomed in on Prosvetov with a shot but followed the rebound to take the lead, 2-1, with 10:59 remaining in the second period.
“A lot of people wouldn’t be able to make that pass to Tip [Tippett] on his goal, he [Brink] makes another nice play on Joel’s [Farabee] goal. They have found one another.”John Tortorella; 12/9/2023
Sanheim was rewarded for his defensive play against Makar. Tippett and Frost kept possession and moved the puck around the net. Eventually, Sanheim was the open look for Frost from behind the net, and Sanheim picked his corner, 3-1, with 8:43 remaining in the second period.
Soon after, Josh Manson helped cut the deficit off an Avalanche faceoff win. Nick Seeler unintentionally screened Hart. Manson took the wrist shot from near the blue line, 3-2, with 7:32 remaining in the second period.
Joel Kiviranta served a minor penalty for holding the stick drawn by York. Philadelphia went 0/1 on the powerplay. Hart bailed out the powerplay twice, stopping two odd-man rush opportunities from Colorado.
Prosvetov made one of the more incredible save sequences you will see all season. Cam Atkinson tried to make a move to sweep the puck under the leg pad but was denied. Farabee followed with another shot attempt, but Prosvetov kept his leg strong and blocked another attempt rapidly. He tried thwarting another hot start to a period by the Flyers.
Konecny was all over the puck, generating breakaway chances out of thin air. MacKinnon had to drop his stick to pull down Konecny, creating a penalty shot. He made MacKinnon pay, snapping a shot that trickled past Prosvetov, 4-2, with 10:29 remaining in the third period.
“He’s [Konecny] just a really good player. 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 and just plays, his engine is so good. He does so many things for the hockey team. It’s fun to watch him play.”John Tortorella; 12/9/2023
For Philadelphia, this game began with a hard shift from Farabee. He finished as strong. After Sanheim got around Devon Toews, Brink was poised on the rebound, found Farabee with an open look at the goal, and made the pass. Farabee converted the scoring chance, 5-2, with 9:43 remaining in the third period.
“I didn’t see Sanny [Sanheim] do that once last year on Beezer’s [Farabee] goal; just bullrush to the net. I did not see him do it once last year, and you could see, once he picked the puck up, that’s his whole thought. That’s what creates that goal.”John Tortorella; 12/9/2023
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers visit the Nashville Predators on December 12th, 2023, at 8pm.
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)