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Flyers stopped by Avs

DENVER - Winning streaks aren't difficult to piece together. Take a look up the New Jersey Turnpike, where the Devils have won nine straight games.

DENVER - Winning streaks aren't difficult to piece together. Take a look up the New Jersey Turnpike, where the Devils have won nine straight games.

As good as the Flyers have been - in stretches - this season, they have labored since late October to win games in succession.

Last night at the Pepsi Center, they ended their two-game trip with a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. They had beaten Minnesota on Wednesday.

John Stevens' team has not won consecutive games since beating Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders on Nov. 10 and 12.

"We have to find a level where we play consistent," defenseman Kimmo Timonen said, adding that you can't play well in one game and poorly in the next.

"You won't make the playoffs that way," he said.

"We have been talking about that a lot," Timonen said. "The way we won in Minnesota, we could win a lot of games playing like that. It's a learning process, too. We have a lot of new guys.

"Coming together and playing the same way is not easy. It's not a 10-game process. It takes time. We still have a lot to learn. But finding that consistent level is the key. If we do that, we'll be fine."

Fourteen players in the lineup last night weren't there last fall, so it may take till midseason for the Flyers to play consistent hockey.

Colorado led by 2-1 after two periods and held on despite continuous offensive pressure from the Flyers in the third period. Stevens' club is 1-9-1 when trailing after 40 minutes.

For the first time since the Flyers have played here, Avalanche center Joe Sakic was not in the lineup. He was out with a groin pull. Colorado has struggled and doesn't have the sizzle it had in the past, although Paul Stastny is having a terrific season.

"They still have a lot of offensive weapons with Sakic and [Milan] Hejduk and [Marek] Svatos, a lot of skill guys," Timonen said. "The key for us is to skate the way we did in Minnesota. We have a fast team. Speed is the key in this league."

There weren't a lot of scoring chances in the opening period. The Flyers were 0 for 2 on the power play mostly because of turnovers on entry passes and set-ups. There was one critical blown call. Timonen's long pass to Mike Richards for a breakaway during a power-play rush was ruled offside.

The back boards created unusual bounces in the first period, and one nearly resulted in a goal. Jaroslav Hlinka dumped the puck for a line change, and the carom angled right across the goalmouth with goalie Martin Biron missing the puck, thinking it would go behind the net.

Biron was on his game as the Avs had several shifts late in the period with good scoring chances. Colorado's best threat was defenseman John-Michael Liles' drive off the rush during a power play, but Biron made a glove save through traffic.

"It was a very defensive period," Flyers center Danny Briere said. "I think we turned a few pucks over on the power play. It was a period where not much was happening yet. I think both teams, not having the chance to see each other, were just kind of studying themselves in the first period."

The Flyers had a lot of different defensive pairs, but it appeared to be a case of the players' not getting clean changes from one combination to the other.

Much as they had in Wednesday's game in Minnesota, the Flyers got an emotional lift from their penalty kill, staving off a two-man disadvantage for 29 seconds early in the second period.

They killed the first one, and nearly got a shorthanded goal from Richards killing off the second penalty. Richards picked off an entry pass, went the distance on goalie Jose Theodore, who made a pad save.

Hlinka gave Colorado a 1-0 lead at 7:50. He took a nice pass into the Flyers zone from Andrew Brunette and wristed a shot below the right circle.

The Flyers had a 5-on-3 power play shortly after for 37 seconds but again, they turned the puck in their own zone and didn't even challenge Theodore.

Late in the period, Jim Dowd's fourth line had three solid scoring chances with Dowd and Sami Kapanen pressing shots from the outside that Theodore saved. Rookie Steve Downie, playing his second game, tipped one in the crease off Theodore.

The Flyers tied it at 17:55 with a power play goal from Briere. A fortunate break for the Flyers there as Scott Parker broke his stick. Briere saw that, moved to the left slot and banged home a pass from Timonen for his 13th goal.

"Kimmo did a great job selling the play, selling the whole thing," Briere said.  "He found me back door.  I give total credit to him."

A rule of thumb in hockey: Never allow a goal in the final minute of a period. The Flyers did that as Hejduk regained the lead for Colorado with his 10th goal on the power play with Timonen in the box for hooking. Ryan Smyth gave him a backhanded pass through Hatcher's legs into the slot. Nice play with 2.9 seconds left in the period.