Avalanche fall 4-0 to Flyers, lose for 18th time in 22 games

Wayne Simmonds scored a pair of first-period goals, Steve Mason made 32 saves and the Philadelphia Flyers snapped out of an offensive funk with a 4-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.

A modern glass face of the Pepsi Center. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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By Aaron Bracy, Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Wayne Simmonds scored a pair of first-period goals, Steve Mason made 32 saves and the Philadelphia Flyers snapped out of an offensive funk with a 4-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.

Jakub Voracek and Jordan Weal also scored for the Flyers, who won for just the third time in their past 10. Philadelphia had just eight goals in those seven losses.

Mason returned to the net after serving as the backup for Michal Neuvirth for the past seven games and earned his second shutout of the season and 32nd of his career.

The NHL-worst Avalanche lost their 18th in the past 22 games to drop to 17-41-3.

Claude Giroux added two assists for the Flyers, who began the day six points out of a playoff spot.

Philadelphia chasing a playoff spot was quite the turnaround from the previous time these teams met when the Flyers skated to a 4-3 win in Colorado on Dec. 14 to win their 10th straight game.

The Flyers have struggled since that matchup — particularly on offense.

Entering Tuesday, they had lost 20 of 29 games since the winning streak ended while averaging 1.72 goals scored and 3.03 goals allowed. The four goals tied the most tallies they’ve had in a game since their previous meeting with Colorado, doing it for the third time.

Simmonds’ first tally came just 4:04 into the game when he scored a short-handed goal after his forehand shot from close range caromed off the stick of Avalanche defenseman Francois Beauchemin and through goalie Jeremy Smith’s legs.

The lead was 2-0 just over four minutes later when Simmonds deflected Shayne Gostisbehere’s slap shot from the point on the power play for his 27th goal of the season.

And the home fans littered the ice with hats in response to an apparent hat trick by Simmonds with another power-play goal with 9:25 left in the first, but the goal was credited to Voracek. Fans booed PA announcer Lou Nolan when he informed them of the score. It looked as if Simmonds redirected Voracek’s cross-ice pass into the net, but replays indicated that the puck actually hit off Beauchemin’s stick and past Smith for a second time.

Weal, playing in his fifth game of the season and 19th of his career, scored his first NHL goal with a nifty deflection from the side of the net of Radko Gudas’ shot 7:16 into the second period.

Colorado coach Jared Bednar challenged the goal, claiming the officials missed an offside call, but the goal was confirmed after a video review.

Colorado had some scoring chances in the period, but Mason denied Mikko Rantanen’s penalty shot just over five minutes into the period and then stopped Jarome Iginla, who got in on Mason alone after defenseman Mark Streit’s giveaway.

Smith made 22 saves in his fourth career start. He earned the start after a 34-save performance in Colorado’s 5-3 home win over Buffalo on Saturday night.

While Tuesday’s victory gives Philadelphia a good vibe with 20 games remaining in the regular season, gaining a playoff berth will be a challenge. The Flyers were behind Tampa Bay, Florida, the Islanders and Toronto, the latter of which held the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 69 points, entering Tuesday.

Should they fail to make the playoffs, the Flyers would become the first team in league history to fail to make the postseason with a 10-game winning streak during that season.