December 30, 2014

The Colorado Avalanche capped their road trip with a victory over the Western Conference's worst team despite not having Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon.

That also marked the end of cupcakes appearing on Colorado's schedule, as only playoff-caliber teams remain over the last nine games.

Colorado's top two scorers will remain out for at least the next two, beginning with Thursday night's visit from the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Avalanche (38-31-4) are on the verge of winning four straight for the first time since Jan. 18-23 after finishing a four-game trip through Canada with Sunday's 3-2 victory over Edmonton. Gabriel Landeskog returned from a three-game suspension and finished with a goal and an assist while Duchene and MacKinnon nursed knee injuries.

"I felt like I was hungry and ready to go, but the guys have done a great job throughout the road trip here making sure that we're in a good spot," Landeskog said. "I was just hungry to come out and help out."

He'll need to be on top of his game moving forward as well. Duchene and MacKinnon won't be evaluated again until Sunday, when Colorado flies out for games against Nashville on Monday and St. Louis the following night.

The Avalanche sit one point behind Minnesota for the West's final playoff spot with a showdown against the Wild looming Saturday at home. After that, they'll face only teams that have clinched playoff spots or are all but assured of a postseason berth.

Coach Patrick Roy doesn't have a timetable for when Duchene and MacKinnon will be able to return.

"They are not going to skate (this week)," Roy said. "We will see how it goes over the weekend and from there we will give you more. We're going on a (weekly) basis."

The Flyers (35-24-13) won't be feeling any sympathy for Colorado's situation having just gone through a three-week stretch without Jakub Voracek. They've gone 1-1-1 since his return after missing out on a crucial point in Tuesday's 3-2 shootout loss to Columbus.

Philadelphia blew a two-goal lead in the final 1:04 of regulation and allowed the tying goal with eight seconds remaining. That forced it into a tie with Detroit for the East's final wild-card spot, although it does have a game in hand.

Despite the setback, the Flyers are still 6-1-2 in their last nine to help improve their playoff hopes in their first season under coach Dave Hakstol.

"No matter how it happens, we've got three out of four points in the first two games of this (four-game) road trip," Hakstol said. "We'll get ourselves refocused on the next job at hand. That's how it is."

Steve Mason stopped 74 of 77 shots while starting both ends of a back-to-back set, as Michal Neuvirth is out for the rest of the regular season with a lower-body injury. Rookie Anthony Stolarz is the other goalie on the roster.

Neuvirth was in goal for the first meeting as Duchene scored twice in Colorado's 4-0 win at Philadelphia on Nov. 10. Semyon Varlamov was nursing a groin injury at the time, but he'll be in net for this one.

Varlamov, whom Roy said also will start against Minnesota, has won four of his last five starts with a 1.59 goals-against average. He has a 1.98 GAA while winning two of his past three against the Flyers.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)