DENVER — The Flyers had hoped veteran goaltender Michal Neuvirth would help their playoff push.
Now there are questions about whether he will play again this season.
Neuvirth returned to action Wednesday in Colorado, his first game since he was injured Feb. 18.
But with 11:37 left in the second period and the Flyers holding a 2-1 lead, he was removed from Wednesday’s game shortly after moving left to right and making a great save on Mikko Rantanen in front.
He was replaced by Petr Mrazek, who played brilliantly in the Flyers’ 2-1 victory over the desperate Avs. Mrazek stopped all 17 shots he faced.
After the game, general manager Ron Hextall said Neuvirth had a lower-body injury and would be evaluated when the team returned home Thursday.
Neuvirth stopped 10 of 11 shots, including J.T. Compher’s first-period breakaway.
Alex Lyon was sent to the AHL’s Phantoms earlier in the day, but will probably have to be recalled. The 25-year-old rookie did a solid job with the Flyers, compiling a 4-2-1 record, a 2.75 goals-against average, and a .905 save percentage.
In fact, he outperformed Mrazek during his stint with the Flyers.
While Lyon was technically sent to the Phantoms, he remained with the Flyers on the trip and will probably stay with them.
On Tuesday, Hextall said he thought Lyon would stay with the Flyers when Neuvirth was activated, but he decided to send him back to Lehigh Valley because it would have counted as a recall if he stayed in the NHL.
The Flyers thus have two recalls left.
Neuvirth had an 8-7-3 record with a 2.61 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage before being sidelined last month.
“He’s taken all the right steps and he’s ready to go,” coach Dave Hakstol said before the game. “It’s a tough assignment he draws coming back in, but he’s risen to these occasions before.”
But he played just 28:23 before going to the locker room.
The Flyers, who entered the night with five regular-season games left, and Avalanche are both fighting for playoff berths in their respective conferences. Neuvirth dropped a 5-4 shootout decision to the visiting Avs on Nov. 4.
Hakstol praised Lyon’s play.
“He’s been extremely important to everything we’ve been able to do,” he said. “We’ve gotten points in six straight games and (eight) of the last 12, and he was a huge part of that. As much as what he brings teammate-wise and competitiveness-wise, he’s been very, very important.”
The Flyers went 8-6-4 in the 18 games that both Neuvirth and Brian Elliott (core-muscle surgery) missed and were replaced by Lyon and Mrazek.
With Wednesday’s win, they have points in seven straight games (4-0-3).
Matt Read had five shots and excelled on the penalty kill Wednesday….Andrew MacDonald blocked seven shots….The Flyers’ 3-2 overtime loss Tuesday in Dallas gave them an NHL-high 14 defeats beyond regulation….Val Filppula, who suffered an arm injury Tuesday, was replaced by Dale Weise in the lineup…..Claude Giroux needs seven points in the final four games to become the first Flyer since Eric Lindros in 1995-96 to collect 100 points in a season.