|6:00 PM PT7:00 PM MT8:00 PM CT9:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)21:00 ETNaN:� BRT, October 6, 2018
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado Attendance: 16,768
Flyers seek second road win to start season vs. Avalanche
Philadelphia Flyers at Colorado Avalanche
- The Flyers scored five goals in Thursday's win at Vegas, though their top two goal-scorers of a season ago, Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, combined for only a single assist. Combining regular season and playoffs, Philadelphia is 12-4-4 on the road since February 6.
- The Avalanche are 5-1-0 in October home games since the start of last season, outscoring their opponents by a combined 27-15. Colorado looks to start a season 2-0-0 at home for only the fourth time in the last 16 seasons.
- Of the last 21 meetings between the Flyers and Avs, dating back to March 2002, 14 of them have been decided by a single goal. Colorado has 25 points (12-8-1) in those 21 games to Philadelphia's 24 (9-6-6), with the Flyers outscoring the Avalanche, 56-54 (excluding "team goals" for shootout wins).
- Wayne Simmonds, who had a hat trick in last season's Flyers opener, tallied twice on Thursday. Since 2016-17, Simmonds has 14 goals in October (23 games), tied for fourth in the NHL in that span.
- Nathan MacKinnon has been held without a goal in his last seven games against the Flyers and has only one career tally in nine games versus Philly. In four career home games against the Flyers, MacKinnon has failed to register a single point.
- Both MacKinnon and Claude Giroux increased their point totals by 44 from 2016-17 to 2017-18; Mikko Rantanen had a 46-point increase, and Sean Couturier enjoyed a 42-point jump. All four ranked in the NHL's top five in points increase from two years ago to last year among players who skated in at least half of their team's games in both seasons.
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One game into the season isn't a time for teams to start making playoff plans, but the Philadelphia Flyers and Colorado Avalanche are both encouraged by their openers.
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.
Colorado's top line led the way, with winger Mikko Rantanen producing a goal and an assist and Nathan MacKinnon scoring what proved to be the winning goal in the second period.
"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."
Updated October 6, 2018