Feb 6, 2014 11:01 PM by Greg Smith
PHILADELPHIA - Steve Mason stopped 38 shots to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-1 victory against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.
Mark Streit, Michael Raffl and Claude Giroux scored for Philadelphia, which won its third straight game and fourth in the past five. Nathan MacKinnon scored for the Avalanche and Semyon Varlamov stopped 32 shots for Colorado, which lost its second straight after a four-game winning streak.
Mason was 2:50 away from his third shutout in five games when MacKinnon, the first pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, beat him from a sharp angle for his rookie-best 21st goal of the season. But that was all the offense Colorado could manage; Mason preserved the 2-1 lead with his best stop of the night, going post-to-post to deny PA Parenteau from the left side with 2:00 left, and Giroux hit the empty-net with 19.8 seconds remaining.
The Flyers led 1-0 after two periods when Raffl doubled the Flyers' advantage with his seventh goal of the season thanks to a strong play on the forecheck by Sean Couturier. Steve Downie dumped the puck into the Colorado end and Avalanche defenseman Nick Holden got to it first, but Couturier arrived a split-second later and knocked him off the puck behind the net. He found Raffl in front; the rookie skated through the crease and beat Varlamov with a quick shot between his pads at 7:05.
The Flyers took a 1-0 lead on Streit's power-play goal at 6:21 of the second period. Philadelphia worked the puck high in the Colorado zone until Streit found a shooting lane straightaway from just inside the blue line. His shot hit the leg of Avalanche forward Marc-Andre Cliche above the circles, and with Steve Downie and Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda battling in front of him, Varlamov never had a chance to make a save. The goal was Streit's eighth of the season and gave him power-play goals in two straight games.
"We had a pretty good breakout," Streit said. "We got in smoothly and we were moving the puck well. Vinny [Lecavalier] made a nice play to me and I had a lane there. I shot it and the puck got deflected and went in. It's a big goal for us at the right moment."
The Flyers had a chance to take a lead in the first when Avalanche forward Patrick Bordeleau was assessed a five-minute penalty for checking from behind and a game misconduct for a hit on Flyers forward Brayden Schenn with 1:32 left in the period. But Philadelphia couldn't capitalize, getting four shots on goal and losing two minutes of the advantage when Wayne Simmonds was called for hooking 47 seconds into the second period.
The Avalanche carried play for most of the first period, outshooting Philadelphia 14-12 and getting the majority of prime scoring chances. Mason was up to every challenge. He stopped Paul Stastny and Gabriel Landeskog from in close in the first minute and then denied MacKinnon alone from the slot after a puck took an odd bounce off the glass above the end boards 4:20 into the game. He also backstopped a pair of penalty kills that saw the Avalanche generate a combined five shots on goal.