Some common characteristics of a young, up-and-coming team include endless energy and unending effort. They also include mind-numbing and ill-timed mistakes, and if you wanted to underscore this, Saturday night’s game between the improved Colorado Avalanche and your mid-process Flyers is a good place to start.
In the end, the Flyers could not overcome the Avs and themselves in a 5-4 shootout loss, despite scoring two third-period goals to twice overcome self-induced goal deficits. Mikko Rantanen scored Colorado’s second shootout goal to win it, after Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek were stopped on their tries.
Voracek, who earlier had scored his third goal of the season, was a surprise choice. He tried to surprise Semyon Varlamov with a quick shot that the Avalanche goaltender easily pushed aside.
“I do that sometimes,’’ said Voracek. “When you score, it looks good. When you don’t, you look like an idiot.’’
There was a healthy sample of both on display Saturday night. As was the case during their last home game against Arizona, the Flyers started lethargically. This time, they escaped down only a goal, but it was the worst kind: Matt Duchene pumped in a power-play rebound with 1.6 seconds left in the period to give Colorado a 1-0 lead.
That changed quickly as the second period began, thanks in large part to high-octane shift by Travis Konecny. Moments after he just missed scoring on a redirected wrister, Konecny laced a pass from the boards just above the goal line that Val Filppula pushed into the net to tie the game at 1.
That frenzied pace continued over the next several minutes, producing a power-play goal by Giroux at 6:31 that gave the Flyers their only lead. It lasted for most of the period, until a comedy of errors – the kind young teams make – triggered two Colorado goals 43 seconds apart. Late in a power play the Flyers coughed up a two-on-one that Avs winger Blake Comeau converted into the tying goal at 15:30. Then, with rookie Travis Sanheim off for a hook, rookie defenseman Robert Hagg accidentally redirected a pass across the crease into the empty side of his own net at 16:13 to push Colorado back ahead, 3-2.
“Bad bounce, not much I can do,’’ Hagg said. “If I’m not there, it’s an easy tap-in for the guy on the other side of the net. That’s how it is sometimes; the puck doesn’t always bounce your way, so you have to fight through it. I think we did that as a team in the third period and came back pretty strong.’’
Strong enough to win it, if not for a few more of those maddening and ill-timed errors. Sixty-four seconds after Voracek pushed across the rebound of Sanheim’s blast at 4:33 of the third to tie it at 3, an ugly Shayne Gostisbehere turnover at his own blue line resulted in Colorado’s fourth goal. Sixty seconds later, Dale Weise finished off a nifty give-and-go to again tie the game, at 6:37 of the third.
Hold your breath at one end of the ice. Hold it again on the other. The Flyers outshot the Avs, 26-13, over the second and third periods, and had plenty of opportunities to win this game in regulation, and in the three-on-three overtime. Specifically, Konecny shot high on a breakaway, and Giroux was denied on two point-blank shots before being denied again in the shootout.
“We didn’t win tonight, but we got a point,’’ said Konecny. “We battled back, we stayed in the game. Arizona, we battled. St. Louis, that’s a hard, hard road game to win. The locker room is not happy with the outcome tonight. But we know what we’re building towards. We know what we have here. We’re not going to hang our heads over this one.’’
Said Voracek: “We’ve had 15 games, and in 12 we have played solid. Tough teams, tough buildings, a lot to build on.
“But in the end, it’s got to show up in the scoresheet.’’