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Avalanche kick off long trip with 5-4 win over Flyers

PHILADELPHIA — The Colorado Avalanche stopped shooting pucks off the post and started firing shots off opponents. It produced two goals and eventually a third straight victory.

PHILADELPHIA — The Colorado Avalanche stopped shooting pucks off the post and started firing shots off opponents.

It produced two goals and eventually a third straight victory.

The Avalanche got one goal off a Philadelphia skate and another off a Flyers stick in the second period, and then Mikko Rantanen scored the winner in the shootout in a 5-4 victory Saturday night.

"A great road win for us," Rantanen said.

The Avalanche fell behind 2-1 in the second period while hitting the post three times. Then their luck suddenly turned.

Blake Comeau short-handed wrist shot deflected off Ivan Provorov's skate and past Michal Neuvirh to tie it with 4:40 left in the second. Rantanen got a goal 43 seconds later after a centring pass bounced off Robert Hagg's stick.

"We played a good game, just a couple of bad bounces turned into goals," Provorov said. "Gave up a goal within the last second of the first period. One went off my skate, the other went off Hagg's stick. It's hockey, it's a game, things like that are going to happen."

There were plenty of twists and turns.

The Flyers scored twice and the Avalanche once in a frantic 2:04 stretch early in the third period that ended with Philadelphia tying it at 4 on Dale Weise's goal at 6:37.

Nail Yakupov, who had taken two penalties, had put Colorado ahead a minute earlier. The Flyers' Jakub Voracek scored 1:04 before that.

Semyon Varlamov stopped 33 shots for Colorado, three on point-blank shots in overtime, two nights after making 57 saves in a victory against Carolina.

"You can't win without strong goaltending, and he's stolen a game or two for us already this year," Avs coach Jared Bednar said. "He gives us stability back there."

In the third round of the shootout, Ranatanen made a nifty move and fired a forehand past the sprawled-out Neuvirth to give the Avalanche their third straight victory.

"That was a really fun game," Bednar said. "Back and forth. Both teams left it on the ice for sure."

Jordan Weal for Philadelphia and Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon scored in the first round of the shootout.

Valtteri Flippula and Claude Giroux had regulation goals for the Flyers, who were playing for the third time in four nights. Neuvirth made 23 saves.

Matt Duchene scored a power-play goal with 1.6 seconds left in the first period for the Avalanche.

Beginning a 10-game trip that will take them to Sweden for two games, the Avalanche dressed only 11 forwards.

Rocco Grimaldi and Matt Nieto were sidelined because of illness. Gabriel Bourque returned after a two-game absence and replaced Nieto's spot on the third line. Nail Yakupov filled in for Grimaldi on the second line, and multiple forwards skated extra shifts on the fourth line.

Shayne Gostisbehere, who entered the night tied for the most points by an NHL defenceman, returned from a three-game injury absence and earned his his 14th point on Gioux's goal. His turnover also led to Yakupov's goal on an uneven night for the Flyers.

"It would have been nice to find a way to win it in regulation," coach Dave Hakstol said. "It doesn't feel very good losing a point at home."

NOTES: Provorov played 28 minutes despite a second-period hit that left him favouring his left shoulder. Provorov has played at least 28 minutes in three of the past four games. ... Avalanche D Nikita Zadorov, benched two games following an ugly 7-0 loss to Vegas, returned to the lineup. ... Flyers rookie Nolan Patrick (upper body) participated in some of the morning skate wearing a non-contact jersey. He's been out since Oct. 26.


The Avalanche visit the New York Islanders on Sunday before flying to Stockholm, where they'll play two games against Ottawa.

The Flyers, with several players banged up, were looking ahead to four days off. They'll they host Chicago on Thursday.


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Mike Cranston, The Associated Press