The Colorado Avalanche are in survival mode right now, and they played like it against St. Louis on Sunday afternoon.
Mikko Rantanen tied the game in the final seconds of regulation and won it in the first minute of overtime to complete a hat trick and end Colorado’s four-game skid.
Now Colorado will try to win its second straight when it hosts the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night in Denver.
The Flyers won the first matchup 5-3 in Philadelphia on Dec. 5 in a game in which the Avalanche’s injury situation became worse. They lost first-line center Nathan MacKinnon to an upper-body injury in the loss, and he will miss another month.
When MacKinnon went down, he became the fifth of Colorado’s top-six forwards to be hurt. Since then the Avalanche have gotten Artturi Lehkonen and Valeri Nichushkin back in the lineup and hope to have Evan Rodrigues soon. Rodrigues (lower body) has been skating on his own and is getting close to returning.
Until then Colorado will keep scrapping with a makeshift lineup to get through the injuries. Rantanen has done his part and now has a team-leading 19 goals after his fifth career hat trick on Sunday.
“We’re missing a lot of guys, a lot of veteran guys, especially up front,” Rantanen said. “I try to do my best, and even little bit more, in this situation. We need a lot to win games.”
The Avalanche will likely have Alexandar Georgiev in net against Philadelphia. He played well in a shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Friday night before Pavel Francouz got the start against St. Louis.
The Flyers’ win over Colorado last week was their only one in December thus far. They’ve gone 2-10-5 since Nov. 8 but have gained points in their first two games on this road trip, overtime losses to Vegas and Arizona.
Philadelphia is 0-6 in overtime and 0-7 overall in games decided after regulation.
“We’ve got to get that figured out,” coach John Tortorella said after the 5-4 loss. “We battled back … now we’ve got to figure out end of games, figure out how to score that goal.”
The Flyers had no problem scoring in the win over the Avalanche. The five goals were the only time they’ve scored more than four since a win over St. Louis on Nov. 8 made them 7-3-2, before their current losing stretch.
Philadelphia, however, has not been shut out since Nov. 1, while Colorado has been blanked twice in the past two weeks. It is, in part, a product of having many top-level players out for an extended time, but the Avalanche aren’t trying to use that as an excuse.
“Guys have been grinding hard, really improving our game as a team, their individual games. We haven’t been rewarded to this point,” Bednar said.
Besides Rodrigues possibly returning, there is no other player that is considered close. Gabriel Landeskog has missed all season following knee surgery and probably won’t return until January, and defensemen Josh Manson (lower body) and Bowen Byram (lower body) are not expected back soon.
–Field Level Media