Flyers seek second road win to start season vs. Avalanche
The Flyers (1-0-0) took it to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night in Las Vegas, beating the reigning Western Conference champions 5-2. It was a complete victory, with Philadelphia killing off all three penalties and getting good goaltending from Brian Elliott.
Elliott weathered early pressure from Vegas and allowed his team to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 5-1 lead.
“Without him, we might have been down 2-0 or 3-0,” Wayne Simmonds, who had two goals, told Philly.com after the game. ” … He allowed us to get our footing, and the boys put pucks in the back of the net for him.”
Now they want to keep that momentum when the play Saturday night in Denver. The Avalanche are coming off their own impressive win, 4-1 over Central Division rival Minnesota on Thursday night.
“We played really well. We were solid through preseason, but we had a good week of practice and we were feeling good coming into (Thursday) night,” MacKinnon said after the game. “Feeling out the (first) period for myself personally, but I got into it in the second and third. Yeah, we played a good game.”
The Avalanche have been stressing the need to start the season strong, and so far so good.
One of the more impressive performances came from young defenseman Samuel Girard. He logged 20:47 of ice time and showed off his bulked-up frame. Girard added 16 pounds of muscle in the offseason and is up to 178 pounds.
“I think he has the potential to be a superstar,” coach Jared Bednar told HockeyBuzz.com on Friday. “The work he put in over the summer to add size and strength … you worry about his quickness. From what we’ve seen so far, he looks better. He knows he’s stronger, he knows he can fight off more checks and not get bumped off pucks as much, he’s more experienced, he’s used to playing against bigger guys.”
Colorado was also happy with the play of goaltender Semyon Varlamov. He only faced 21 shots, but he made big saves when the Wild were pressing for a tying goal in the third period. He will get the start Saturday, with backup Philipp Grubauer likely to make his Avalanche debut on Tuesday in Columbus.
Varlamov made his eighth opening-night start, which is the most in Avalanche history. It was also his 400th NHL game.
Colorado is looking for more production in its secondary lines and saw some encouraging play from Tyson Jost, Colin Wilson and J.T. Compher. Compher had an empty-net goal and Jost picked up an assist.
“We had chances and we have to capitalize on some of them, but I thought we were skating really well and were really responsible in the D zone,” Jost told HockeyBuzz.com. “We didn’t give them much off the defensive side of things, so that was a plus.”