DENVER (AP) – Mikko Rantanen put his first shot right where Carter Hart could make a great save. He didn’t give the Philadelphia goaltender a chance on his next two scoring opportunities. Rantanen had two goals and Pavel Francouz made 32 saves to lead the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-1 win over the Flyers on Wednesday night.
The Finnish forward has come back strong from an injury that cost him 16 games early in the season. Rantanen has four goals and five assists since returning on Nov. 30, and Wednesday was his first multi-goal game since opening night.
He could have had a hat trick, but settled for a pair of goals after Hart made a diving glove save on him midway through the second period.
“I got pretty good wood on it, I just put it at the perfect height for him to make the save,” Rantanen said. “It was a great save. When he robs me like that, it’s nice to get one or two back like that.”
Francouz, the 29-year-old first-year player, did most of his work after the first period, stopping 27 shots in the final 40 minutes to help the Avalanche bounce back from a loss Monday night. He came within 5:12 of his first career shutout, but Claude Giroux scored on a rebound to spoil it.
It was Giroux’s 10th of the season.
“I would love to have a shutout, but if you told me in the morning we would win 3-1, I would take it,” Francouz said.
Matt Calvert also scored, and Nathan MacKinnon had an assist for his 48th point of the season, good for third in the NHL in scoring.
Hart had 25 saves for Philadelphia.
The Flyers have been one of the hottest teams in the league over the last six weeks, going 11-3-4. They came on strong in the middle period, putting the first 11 shots on goal in the second and outshooting Colorado 17-5 in the period.
“I thought we gave it to them in the second and their goalie made some good saves, and hopefully some of those go in to a different game,” Philadelphia forward Kevin Hayes said.
The Flyers had several good chances, but Francouz kept them off the board, and the Avalanche grabbed a two-goal advantage on a counterattack. MacKinnon fed Rantanen on the right side and he deflected it past the diving Hart at 16:05.
Rantanen got his second of the game and eighth of the season 2:31 into the third when he scored on a pass from Nazem Kadri from behind the net to put Colorado ahead 3-0.
“Naz made a quick play, gave it to me and the goalie had no chance,” Rantanen said.
Philadelphia had a couple of good chances on a power play soon after, but Francouz stopped Jakub Voracek on a shot from close range, and Nikita Zadorov cleared the loose puck out of the crease.
Calvert gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead with his sixth goal at 5:21 of the first period. The puck hit the left post and went through the crease to Calvert, who flipped it in with a backhand.
“I heard it hit the post and I tried to turn around to find it and it ended up squirting out to their guy on the back,” Hart said. “Just kind of a weird, broken play.”
NOTES: Colorado G Philipp Grubauer (lower body) was out for the second straight game. The Avalanche recalled Adam Werner from the Colorado Eagles of the AHL to serve as Francouz’s backup. … Flyers RW Travis Konecny (concussion) missed his first game and his return is unknown. … Avalanche D Cale Makar missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. … Philadelphia RW David Kase made his NHL debut.
Philadelphia: At Minnesota on Saturday night.
Colorado: Hosts New Jersey on Friday night.
By MICHAEL KELLY, Associated Press
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