DENVER — After a decisive win against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, the Flyers plummeted from their Mile High high against the Colorado Avalanche the following night at Ball Arena.

The league’s top-ranked Avalanche controlled the pace of play for the majority of the game, dominating their way to a 6-3 victory. Four of the Avalanche’s six goals came in the first period alone. While taking up residency in the Flyers’ zone all night, the Avalanche peppered goalie Carter Hart with 51 shots on goal.

“I don’t think our mistakes or the quality of chances that they had, the number of chances that they had, was a direct result of us necessarily being tired,” Flyers interim coach Mike Yeo said. “I thought that we played a little bit safe in the first period.”

Despite the Avalanche’s offensive domination, the Flyers found ways to crack backup goalie Pavel Francouz, especially late in the game. In the final 30 seconds of the second period with the Flyers down, 5-1, Zack MacEwen scored on a breakaway. Max Willman capitalized early in the third period off a rebound to cut the Avalanche’s lead to two.

However, after star defenseman Cale Makar registered his second goal of the night — his 24th of the year, a single-season franchise record for a defenseman — less than a minute after Willman’s goal, the Flyers’ attempt at a comeback came to a close.

A nightmare stretch

The Flyers spent too much time defending in the opening frame, but 5 ½ minutes after center Nazem Kadri put the Avalanche on the board first, winger James van Riemsdyk evened the score, capitalizing on a shot off his own rebound. However, the Flyers failed to grab hold of the momentum after van Riemsdyk’s goal, as defenseman Kevin Connauton was called for tripping just 40 seconds later.

In a span of 4 minutes and 20 seconds, the bottom completely fell out for the Flyers. First, five seconds into the Avalanche power play, Makar scored on a wrist shot from the point. Two-and-a-half minutes later, a shot below the goal line from J.T. Compher deflected off defenseman Nick Seeler’s stick and past Hart. Less than two minutes after Compher’s goal, winger Mikko Rantanen’s shot off the transition rush deflected off of defenseman Keith Yandle’s stick and over the goal line to make it 4-1, Avalanche.

“They move the puck really well and in-zone, everyone’s always moving, whether it’s a D or a forward,” Seeler said. “When they get going, it’s tough if you’re not killing plays.”

Attack on hold

Consequently, while the Flyers spent most of the first period defending — the Avalanche registered 30 shot attempts to the Flyers’ 13 through the opening 20 minutes — they struggled to get to their offensive game. The Avalanche played a tight-checking game through the neutral zone, slowing the Flyers’ momentum when they managed to clear their own zone.

One of the Flyers’ best scoring chances in the first period came when defenseman Travis Sanheim entered the zone with speed down the wing with the puck on his stick. He teed up winger Hayden Hodgson for a shot on Francouz, who made the save on Hodgson. However, while the Flyers had one-off scoring chances, they seldom sustained an attack against the Avalanche’s forecheckers in the first half of the game. Additionally, the Flyers only won 39% of their faceoffs, which hurt their puck possession.

“There’s not a lot of times where we saw our game, what our game is, here tonight,” Yeo said. “Whether we didn’t have the energy, whether it was too much respect for them, we didn’t check the way that we have been and the way that we should. And when you do that against a team like that, you give them that much time and space, they’re going to make you pay.”

Hart under siege

Despite allowing six goals, Hart was not entirely to blame for the majority of the Avalanche’s success. In the first two periods alone, Hart faced 37 shots on goal. That was a heavier volume than Hart saw in each of his last five entire games, which included an overtime contest against the Montreal Canadiens on March 13 (35 shots against).

Hart looked especially sharp in the second period, turning aside 18 of the Avalanche’s 19 shots on goal. Eight minutes in, the Avalanche poured on the pressure when Hart denied a trio of shots from Nathan MacKinnon, Valeri Nichushkin, and Makar, lying flat on the ice in an attempt to cover the puck until the play was blown dead. However, his efforts were not enough for the Flyers to manage a complete comeback.

“They’ve got some good high-end players,” Hart said. “They were rolling their lines well. It’s tough to defend for sure. But all you can do is give it your best and try to shut them down.”

What’s next

The Flyers face the Nashville Predators on Sunday at 6 p.m., the fourth part of their five-game road trip to close out March.