Avalanche Smothers Floundering Flyers|
By Ray Van Horn, Jr. Copyright 1999
The March 11th return of Mark Recchi to the Philadelphia Flyers after his tenure with the Montreal Canadiens was a short-lived celebration as the Colorado Avalanche spoiled the festivities by slapping the Flyers with a 5-3 loss.
Recchi registered the game's first hit on Alexei Gusarov, boldly announcing his return and setting the brutal tempo of the game.
Colorado's Sandis Ozolinsh trickled in a repulsed slapshot from Peter Forsberg behind Philadelphia netminder John Vanbiesbrouck's back. Forsberg recorded his 300th assist, making him 4th overall in the NHL. Forsberg would pick up 2 more assists as the game progressed.
Amidst the roughhouse checking, jabbing, spearing and slashing in the trenches that dominated the entire game, Eric Lindros answered Colorado on a Flyers power play with his 38th goal on the season, weaving through two Avalanche defenders and nudging his own rebound past Patrick Roy to tie the game at 1-1.
By the second period, Philadelphia turnovers marked their downfall. Joe Sakic intercepted a Flyer pass in his own zone and broke away, deking John Vanbiebrouck before flipping in his 31st goal of the year at 16:09 left in the period. 16 seconds later, Adam Deadmarsh took advantage of an errant Philly zone pass and an ineffective Vanbiesbrouck to give the Avalanche a 3-1 lead. Deadmarsh would also pound a confused Luke Richardson into submission.
The limp Flyers as a team appeared to submit to the Avalanche for most of the second, until Mark Recchi electrified the crowd and his new teammates by chipping in a rebound from Valeri Zelepukin at 10:18 to reduce the deficit to 3-2.
Colorado rookie Chris Drury was the star of the evening, observing an opening at13:48 caused by Philadelphia's Daymond Langkow's inability to clear a face off in his own zone. Stephane Yelle picked up his 7th assist on the play.
Langkow redeemed himself in the third period by knocking in his 14th goal for the year at 5:07, once again drawing within one point of Colorado, 4-3. However, it was all for naught as Drury scored his second goal of the evening (his 17th overall, making him tops amongst NHL rookies) from a well-timed Forsberg pass. It brought Forsberg to 302 career assists.
As if to add insult to injury, Patrick Roy fired a cross-ice shot into an empty Philadelphia netThe goal didn't count, however, as the puck crossed the Philly blue line as time expired.
The rowdy and disgruntled throng at First Union Center booed as the announcement for the final minute of the game sounded over the intercom, knowing that the night would belong to Colorado, who are now 11-1-2 in their last 14 games.
Philadelphia outshot the Avalanche 36-27, but it was the aforementioned turnovers and a soft watch by Vanbiesbrouck that contributed to the 5-3 defeat.
On his team's recent surge, game MVP Chris Drury commented, "We're feeling pretty good about ourselves."
The same might not be said of the Flyers, who failed to win in their ninth straight game, which has not occurred since 1982.
Copyright©1999 The HockeyNut