Theodore’s 28 saves lifts Avalanche over Flyers, 2-1
DENVER (AP)—The Colorado Avalanche haven’t solved their road woes, though they have mastered playing at home.
Jaroslav Hlinka also scored for Colorado, struggled at home last season while posting a 22-16-3 record at the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche started 6-0 at home this season and are now 11-3 here.
“We have to place an emphasis on getting points everywhere, but we want to make sure what we set in place right off the bat is something that we can carry through all year long, and playing well at home is important,” Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said.
Marty Biron had 30 saves and Daniel Briere scored for the Flyers.
“They played a good game,” Briere said. “Theodore was strong, like Marty.”
Colorado benefited from strong goaltending and special teams play. Theodore came up big with the game still scoreless early in the second, when Colorado had a two-man advantage for 29 seconds but couldn’t get a shot on goal.
After Philadelphia killed off the first penalty, Mike Richards stole a Brett Clark pass in the neutral zone and had a breakaway. He tried to put the puck between Theodore’s legs, but the goalie made the save.
“I was ready for that game,” Theodore said. “We played really well and our focus was good defensively.”
Five minutes later, Hlinka gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead with his fourth goal of the season. He skated into the Flyers zone, and his shot from the right faceoff circle beat Biron just under the crossbar.
“He had very little room to put it there,” Biron said. “When a guy takes it inside the post, not much you can do.”
The Flyers had an opportunity to tie the game 2 minutes after Hlinka’s goal. With Scott Hannan in the penalty box for holding, Hejduk’s delay of game penalty gave the Flyers a 5-on-3 advantage, but Colorado killed off both penalties.
“The part of the game that got away was the 5-on-3,” Flyers coach John Stevens said. “We had 37 seconds, we turned it over right away, we got it back in the zone and turned it over. We had an opportunity slip away there.”
The Flyers tied it during a swarming power play late in the second period, and they finally got the equalizer when Briere beat Theodore with 3:05 left in the frame.
“In the second period we used more composure, started creating more chances and finally we got a goal,” Briere said. “In the first period, it was a matter of us not making the smart plays.”
Hejduk broke a 1-all tie with his 99th career power-play goal just before the second-period horn. With Kimmo Timonen off for hooking at 19:40, Ryan Smyth sent a backhand pass through the legs of Paul Stastny to Hejduk, who one-timed a shot over Martin Biron’s right shoulder.
“It was a much-needed power-play goal for us,” Hejduk said. “Ryan made a great play. I was open in the slot and fired to the far side high, and it went in.”
Biron said he expected Smyth to pass it to Stastny, who was standing on the side of the net.
“I didn’t know (Hejduk) was there because there was a scrum in front of the net,” he said. “I saw the puck at the last second, and it was a little to late to react to it.”
It was fortunate for Colorado, which rebounded from blowing a third-period lead in Columbus on Wednesday.
“This is a big win for us, especially how badly we played in Columbus where we were up 3-1 and lost the game,” Hejduk said. “We need this home stretch to win hockey games.”
Avalanche C Joe Sakic missed his fourth straight game with a groin injury. … Friday’s game was the first time the Flyers played in Denver since the 2003-04 season. Philadelphia forward Sami Kapanen is the only player remaining from that team.