Offensively, the Avalanche has found itself in an untimely slump.
With third-string goalie Andrew Hammond in net Wednesday, the rested Avalanche couldn’t produce more than one goal for the third consecutive game in regulation/overtime and lost ground in the Western Conference playoff race against a team that lost in OT Tuesday at Dallas.
Colorado’s top line of Nathan MacKinnon and wingers Gabe Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen were pointless for the third consecutive game and the Philadelphia Flyers skated off the Pepsi Center surface with a 2-1 victory that enhanced their Eastern Conference playoff chances.
The Avs (90 points) could have leapfrogged St. Louis and Anaheim, both with 91 points, if they had won. Instead, they remain out of the playoff picture with just five games to play.
“Everybody goes through spurts where you don’t score as much as you’d like to,” Avs right winger Blake Comeau said. “When that happens you have to buckle down defensively. We held them to two (goals) and had a lot of great looks. We just couldn’t get that second one. Just got to get ready for the next game.”
Indeed, Hammond (31 saves) wasn’t to blame. He blanked the Flyers in the second and third periods. But Colorado’s power play was 0-of-3 and didn’t look dangerous at all.
“Generally, we’ve counted on our power play to get at least one a night, so there’s one we’re missing in the last couple games. Power play wasn’t great again tonight,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “Too deliberate, too slow with the puck. Not moving enough with it and letting the puck do the work. Little bit too slow for me. Doesn’t have enough attack mentality right now.”
Starting goalie Semyon Varlamov was ill, the Avs said, and Jonathan Bernier missed his third consecutive game with an infected cut on his left hand. Rookie Spencer Martin backed up Hammond, who traveled from San Antonio on Wednesday and did not participate in the morning skate.
“I didn’t feel like I was behind the 8-ball or anything coming in here,” said Hammond, who was acquired Nov. 5 from Ottawa in the Matt Duchene three-team deal that netted Colorado seven pieces, including prospects and draft picks from the Senators and Nashville Predators. “It’s (like) a bus in the American League or a preseason game in the NHL when you fly the day of the game — so I didn’t think it was too tall of a task to ask of me. It’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t get the win.”
Philadelphia, which lost starting goalie Michal Neuvirth to injury in the second period, took a 2-1 lead into the third period behind backup Petr Mrazek. The Flyers led 2-0 until Avs left wing Matt Nieto scored a gritty goal in the paint 5:36 into the second period to cut the deficit in half.
“Second period we really poured it on them. After ‘Niet’s’ goal, I thought we were the better team in that period,” Landeskog said. “Third period, I felt like we had some chances. That’s the way it goes.”
Philly got first-period goals from Claude Giroux and Ivan Provorov — both on big slaps shots. The Flyers outshot the Avs 11-9 after the first period and 23-16 after the second.They finished with a 33-28 advantage.
This is the third straight game not more than one goal was scored in regulation or overtime.
The Avalanche concludes its two-game homestand Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Colorado then embarks on a three-game trip beginning Sunday at Anaheim, followed by games at Los Angeles on Monday and at San Jose on Thursday, April 5.
The season finale is April 7 against the St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center.