EditorsNote: rewords second, third and last grafs
Claude Giroux and Ivan Provorov each scored goals while Michal Neuvirth and Petr Mrazek combined for 27 saves Wednesday night as the Philadelphia Flyers gained two big points in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a 2-1 verdict over the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center in Denver.
The result enabled Philadelphia to tie Pittsburgh for second place in the Metropolitan Division with 92 points, taking the Flyers out of the wild-card picture at least temporarily. Philadelphia bounced back after losing each of the previous two games in overtime.
Meanwhile, Colorado suffered a potentially costly defeat in its pursuit of a Western Conference playoff spot. The Avalanche stayed at 90 points, one behind the St. Louis for fourth place in the Central Division. They are also a point behind the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks.
Colorado played without workhorse goalie Semyon Varlamov, who was out due to illness. Recent call-up Andrew Hammond, known as the “Hamburglar” in 2014-15 when he went 20-1-2 and guided the Ottawa Senators to a surprising playoff spot, made his first NHL start of the season and stopped 31 shots.
Giroux opened the scoring at 10:24 of the first period with his 27th goal. Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere played catch at the points before Gostisbehere zipped a cross-ice pass to the left circle. Giroux rifled a one-timer into the top of the net.
Provorov made it 2-0 at 18:12 of the opening period after teammates Andrew MacDonald and Jordan Weal won puck battles in the corners. Weal slipped a pass to Provorov at the left point, and his one-timer beat Hammond, thanks in part to a Jakub Voracek screen.
Matt Nieto got Colorado on the board at 5:36 of the second period with his 14th goal. Erik Johnson’s point shot was stopped by Neuvirth, but the rebound was corralled by Dominic Toninato. Neuvirth walled up to deny Toninato, but Nieto shoveled home another rebound.
Neuvirth, who was activated earlier Wednesday from injured reserve after missing more than a month with a lower-body injury, left the game with 8:07 gone in the second. Mrazek replaced him and stopped all 17 shots he faced. Neuvirth stopped 10 of 11 shots.
—Field Level Media