DENVER -- On a normal night in an NHL dressing room, most players are out of their equipment and heading for their post-game workout by the time the media is permitted to enter five minutes after the final horn sounds.
Last night, each stall was filled with half-dressed players.
Sweat pouring down their faces from their furious third period push, there was a blank expression on their collective look.
It was one of exhaustion and exasperation, not so much frustration. There was little rush to move, even with a short flight to Phoenix awaiting at the airport.
This night, a 2-1 loss to Colorado, needed a second to sink in. Aside from a cleaner first period, there really wasn’t much more the Flyers could have done.
Skating without two of their top nine forwards - Matt Read (upper-body injury) and Michael Raffl (left in the first period with a concussion) - playing in their fourth game of the season’s longest distance trip of the season, the Flyers played one of their strongest periods of the season to try and knot the game at 2-2 in the third.
“Keep your heads up, boys,” coach Craig Berube said to his team.
It was certainly much better than they had played in Vancouver on Monday night, where they came away with a better fate. Semyon Varlamov stopped 29 of 30 shots.
The loss broke the Flyers’ season-high four game winning streak.
“The effort was there,” Claude Giroux said. “We played a good game. We had a lot of chances to tie it up. The puck was on the goal line. A lot of chances. I think we’ve just got to keep our heads up.”
With the loss, the Flyers (20-17-4) fell just short of climbing ahead of Washington for second place in the Metropolitan division - which would have been their highest standing of the season so far. They are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.
“I thought we could have done some better things, but I thought as a whole, we played pretty decent,” Wayne Simmonds said. “It would have been nice to pick up any points in that game.”
Colorado ended up with 10 shots in the third period, but that number doesn’t really paint an accurate picture of the play in the period. The ice was clearly tilted - particularly in the last 15 minutes, when the puck infrequently crossed the red line.
Steve Mason stopped 29 of 31 shots. The one difference was a dribbling puck from Ryan O’Reilly that ran up the top of his right leg pad and popped over his shoulder.
“It was a pretty crappy break,” Mason said. “The effort was there tonight. We had a lot of chances to get back and take the lead, but the puck wasn’t bouncing the right way for us tonight. I thought the guys were working hard to create chances.
For the Flyers, Mason turned aside Colorado’s early push and allowed his teammates to push back. Mason suffered his first regulation loss in 9 starts. It was just his third regulation loss (14-3-4) since Nov. 5.
“I expected that (push),” Mason said. “Heading into the third period, I told myself to make the saves I needed to keep it at 2 (goals) and give the boys a chance. Varlamov made some good saves.”
Last night ended the Flyers’ streak of eight consecutive games in which they scored three or more goals. Scott Hartnell said it was simply a case of the Flyers running into a hot goaltender.
“We were screening goalies, we had a couple of point-blank chances,” Hartnell said. “People were driving the net. You do that most games and you’re going to get rewarded for your hard work. Tonight, we got stoned.”
Wayne Simmonds’ goal gave him at least a point in 7 out of his last 8 games. He has 8 goals and 4 assists for 12 points in that span ... Claude Giroux was held without a point for the second game in a row. The last time that happened was Nov. 5 ... Brayden Schenn played a career-high 21:40. His last career-high was 21:19 on April 7, 2012 in Pittsburgh.
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