Winning streak eludes Flyers
Seeking consistency, they fell to the Avalanche instead to complete a two-game road trip.
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.
Though they didn't win, there wasn't a dropoff from the previous game - a problem that has plagued the team.
The game-winner came in the final seconds of the second period.
"It's kind of stung us before," Stevens said. "We had some opportunities in the second period, a five-on-three. The power play got us going, we got a big goal. But we gave the home team a lead late in the period.
"It's tough," he said. "But I still felt we created chances right up until the end and had some near misses. That's what we want to see. A fight to the end."
Defenseman Kimmo Timonen said the Flyers "have to find a level where we play consistent."
"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."
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 across the goalmouth. Goalie Martin Biron missed 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 Wednesday, 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 and 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 five-on-three power play for 37 seconds, but again they turned over 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 by Briere. They got a fortunate break when 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 backdoor. "
A rule of thumb: Never allow a goal in the final minute of a period. The Flyers did that as Hejduk regained the lead for Colorado.