Rantanen scores twice, leads Avalanche past Flyers 4-1
AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA — Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog are the top line in Colorado — and right now, the NHL.
Rantanen had two goals, Matt Nieto and Landeskog also scored, and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Monday night.
The Avalanche continued their early-season hot streak and finished 3-0-1 on their four-game road trip.
“We know that we have to be better than we were last year on the road. It’s a focus of ours,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “We don’t feel like there’s any reason we can’t play the way we do at home out on the road, even though there’s some tougher circumstances.”
They’ll be fine if the top line keeps producing like this. Landeskog had a hat trick on the trip against New Jersey and clinched this one with his eighth goal of the season early in the third period.
“I’ve had a lot of fun in the NHL but no doubt we’re getting some production and we’re playing well and creating a lot of chances,” Landeskog said.
Semyon Varlamov was solid in net and stopped 37 shots.
The Flyers continued to push their rookie mascot Gritty, giving out T-shirts and running fun facts (“Gritty has been known to use the express lane at the grocery story even when he buys more than 15 items”) on the big screen of the furry fan favorite. But the frivolity can’t mask the problems for a Flyers’ team that suffered its third home loss of the season and continued to struggle in the defensive zone.
“I think it took us getting down to come to life there and I think, especially in our home building, we got to come on strong and we got to sync more,” Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim said.
Rantanen needed only 3:23 to beat Brian Elliott for his third goal of the season and the quick lead. MacKinnon set up Rantanen for the power-play score, and they became the first players in franchise history with concurrent nine-game point streaks to start the season.
Nieto was left open on the left side to score his first goal of the season in the second.
Flyers captain Claude Giroux lost the puck in the offensive zone and Landeskog capitalized with a breakaway goal for a 3-0 lead.
The fans chanted for Gritty.
The best they got was a slapper from Nolan Patrick to cut it to 3-1.
“You see the way we play when we get down, we dominate the game,” Patrick said. “That’s kind of something we need to do for a full 60 minutes. We can’t just wait until we’re down to start making a push like that. We’re capable of so much more.”
The Avalanche continued to get production from perhaps the best top line in the NHL. MacKinnon has a goal in seven of nine games, and his eight even-strength goals lead the NHL. Rantanen is in the top-five in scoring, and Landeskog has been a dominant goal scorer.
Rantanen added an unassisted empty-netter in the final 90 seconds to squash any thought of a Flyers’ comeback.
He put up almost 90 points last year and he’s off to a good start this year and it seems like he’s still not getting the recognition he deserves,” Landeskog said. “That’s fine with us, we’ll take that. He’s going to be stud in this league for a long time.”
NOTES: Flyers F Michael Raffl left with an unspecified lower—body injury. … Flyers D Shayne Gostisbehere seemed in pain and was down on the ice for a bit after a collision in the third with Landeskog. … Joe Sakic and Anton Stastny each had a point in eight straight games to open the 1988—89 season when the franchise was still in Quebec. … The Flyers have yet to win consecutive games this season. … Landeskog was named the NHL first star of the week. … The Avalanche blocked 22 shots.
Avalanche: Return home Wednesday to play Tampa Bay.
Flyers: Thursday at Boston.
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