By Brent W. New, Associated Press
DENVER (AP) — Wayne Simmonds handed his faulty stick to Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in the middle of a late onslaught by the Colorado Avalanche and continued to try to block shots with his body.
It was the kind of all-out effort the Philadelphia Flyers needed to preserve their longest winning streak in 31 years.
Roman Lyubimov and Brayden Schenn scored 1:46 apart in the third period and Philadelphia held on for its 10th straight victory, beating Colorado 4-3 on Wednesday night.
The Flyers have their longest winning streak since a franchise-best run of 13 games in 1985, but this one didn’t come easily.
Colorado had chance after chance to score the equalizer after pulling goalie Calvin Pickard with 1:31 remaining. Steve Mason helped deny the Avalanche with several clutch saves as his defense scrambled in front of him.
“Just an all-out battle,” Mason said. “Guys were giving everything they could to block shots, try to clear pucks. We had a broken stick, a failed clear on a wrong-way stick. It’s a heck of a way to close out a game. It was pretty chaotic.”
Off a Colorado turnover in its own zone, Lyubimov slapped the go-ahead goal past Pickard 3:30 into the third. Schenn added to the lead with his fifth goal in his last three games.
Simmonds and Michael Del Zotto also scored, and Mason stopped 26 shots.
The Flyers know they can’t be satisfied in a competitive Metropolitan Division, though. They are tied with New York Rangers in second place at 41 points.
But still, the streak is appreciated.
“I’ve never won 10 in a row in any league, never mind the NHL,” Simmonds said. “So it’s pretty special.”
Pickard, starting in place of injured Semyon Varlamov, made 21 saves. Matt Duchene had two goals and Rene Bourque also scored for the Avalanche, who have lost five straight at home and eight of 10 overall.
Duchene scored his second goal of the night to make it 4-3 with 4:45 remaining, and thought he nearly had his third in the last minute.
“I missed one by I think an inch from the backdoor,” Duchene said. “We pressed, we didn’t give up — which is good. But we put ourselves into too many bad positions this year. The starts of periods are killing us this year and tonight was no different.”
Duchene put back a rebound off Mason to give Colorado a 2-1 lead 16:34 into second, but Simmonds tied it 23 seconds later with his 16th goal of the season, fourth-most in the league.
The Flyers appeared to score again 78 seconds after that, but Bellemare’s goal was overturned after video replay deemed that he tipped in the puck with a high stick.
Things got chippy after that. Gabriel Landeskog laid out Michael Raffl with a big hit, causing Landeskog and Jakub Voracek to drop the gloves. Both got in a few shots before Voracek fell to the ice.
“I don’t think I picked the right city to fight in,” Voracek cracked. “I felt like I ran a marathon out there. I was tired.”
The Flyers got on the board first with Del Zotto’s goal 4:01 into the second. Del Zotto took a crossing pass from Claude Giroux, but Pickard slid across the crease to deny his initial chance. The puck fluttered into the air and dropped back into the crease before Del Zotto swiped his own rebound into the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season.
Bourque tied it 12:14 into the second with his ninth goal.
“You lay it all on the line and you don’t get any results,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “It’s frustrating, for sure.”