On the final game of a long road trip, the Colorado Avalanche got a career best performance from the hardest worker on their team. Fitting for it to happen in a city like Philadelphia.
Logan O’Connor scored the first Hat Trick of his NHL career, and set a career high in goals in the process, as the Avalanche defeated the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 7-4. O’Connor’s line was dominant, as Ross Colton and Miles Wood combined for five assists. The rest of the offense was created by Colorado’s superstars. Nathan MacKinnon racked up five points on his own, passing Nikita Kucherov for the league-lead in scoring. Mikko Rantanen also added two goals.
In net, Alexandar Georgiev stopped 35 of the 39 shots Philadelphia sent his way.
At the end of a long road trip, the legs aren’t always there. To start the game, the Flyers were certainly the better team, as they forced the Avalanche to do a lot of chasing in their own end. To Colorado’s credit, while they didn’t possess the puck a whole lot, they did manage to keep the Flyers to the outside for the majority of their chances.
After a lot of chasing early, the Flyers got the first powerplay, but Colorado didn’t give them much. That penalty kill helped stabilize things a little bit for them. They didn’t create much offensively, but things calmed down in their own end a bit.
At the 10 minute mark, on their first offensive zone shot of the period, Colorado got a bit of puck luck. Sam Malinski’s point shot was deflected up high by Ross Colton. That wasn’t where the play ended, as it bounced around and hit Logan O’Connor’s skate before trickling past Carter Hart, giving the Avalanche the 1-0 lead.
Philadelphia got a good look almost immediately after the goal, but Farabee missed an open net on a 2-on-1. Late in the first, Colorado got their first powerplay, and it didn’t exactly go well. The Flyers had a 3-on-1, but couldn’t even get a shot on net, as Cale Makar took away everything. Right after the powerplay ended, Nathan MacKinnon made a terrific cross-ice pass to a wide-open Mikko Rantanen, who rifled a one-timer over the glove of Hart, making it 2-0. They took that lead into the intermission.
It did not take very long for the Avalanche to extend their lead in the second period. Just 43 seconds in, Nathan MacKinnon snuck off the bench and behind the Flyers defense. Miles Wood hit him with a pass, and the (now) leading scorer in the NHL went in on a breakaway, beating Hart on the glove side and making it 3-0.
A minute later, the Flyers got on the board, as Jack Johnson lost Farabee in front, and the Philadelphia forward took a nice pass from Morgan Frost to beat Georgiev up high.
Seven minutes later, Colorado’s “second line” at the moment of Miles Wood, Ross Colton, and Logan O’Connor went to work again. They forechecked hard, and created a turnover on the backcheck. Wood sent a nice cross-ice pass to O’Connor, who had skated past the man covering him, and O’Connor beat Hart up high for his second goal of the game. That trio was Colorado’s best against the Bruins, and dominated on Saturday afternoon.
Just a few minutes later, the Flyers took advantage of Georgiev not expecting a shot. Travis Konecny took the puck up high and let a quick wrist shot go from the blueline. It escaped Georgiev, and cut the lead to two again. A goal like that could have easily changed the momentum, but the Avalanche didn’t let it.
Late in the period, the Avalanche executed a line change in the offensive zone, getting MacKinnon on the ice late against a tired Flyers squad. After taking a drop pass from Manson, he let a wrist shot go through traffic that trickled through Hart, restoring the three goal lead for the Avalanche. The Flyers let Hart finish the period, but he didn’t start the next one.
A team coached by John Tortorella wasn’t going to just lay down and die. They had kept working all game, and really pushed the limit to start the period, scoring two goals in the first 10 minutes of the third to cut the lead down to one.
Foerster was given some time and space at the left circle and beat Georgiev cleanly on the blocker side, and then a few minutes later, Cam Atkinson snuck behind Cale Makar and deflected a shot past Georgiev. The crowd was going wild, and the Flyers kept pushing, but Logan O’Connor managed to draw a penalty through hard work, giving the Avalanche stars a chance to kill the momentum.
Which they did.
Cale Makar’s shot from the point somehow snuck through Ersson, and Rantanen tapped the puck in behind him, making it 6-4. Philadelphia pulled the goalie and created some chaotic moments around Georgiev, but with the net empty, Bednar put out the three players on the verge of a Hat Trick.
Only one player could complete the trick, and Nathan MacKinnon made sure it was the guy who was looking for his first.
Rantanen chipped the puck up and out of the zone, and MacKinnon and O’Connor went in on a 2-on-0 with the net empty. MacKinnon passed it off to O’Connor, who completed the first Hat Trick of his career, cementing the win for the Avalanche by a score of 7-4.
After a long road trip, the Avalanche will get a few days off in between games. On Wednesday, they’ll host Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at Ball Arena. That game starts at 7:30 PM MST.