Simmonds scores 2 goals to lead Flyers past Avalanche 4-0

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Flyers were thrilled to finally see the puck go in the net.

Wayne Simmonds scored a pair of first-period goals, Steve Mason made 33 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.

"We desperately needed two points," Simmonds said.

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.

Philadelphia has been firing on net, outshooting each of its previous eight opponents, but getting past the goalies had been a problem before Tuesday.

"We had the same type of start we've had the last couple of nights," Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol said. "Tonight we had some reward for it. That's a nice way to start a hockey game."

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.

"I hope it's the last time I get booed after I score," Voracek said. "I thought (Simmonds) had it and when he told me he didn't touch it, I thought, 'Oh my God, this is going to be interesting.' I hope some fans won't throw rocks at my car when I'm leaving."

The Avalanche settled down after Voracek's goal, but the opening run was too much to overcome.

"First period we come out and weren't physically ready to go," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "We were on our heels and we let them come at us. We weren't prepared for it."

The Flyers finished the scoring with a second-period goal by Weal.

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.

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

"We've been working hard as a team and haven't had the results," Giroux said. "It's been frustrating."

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.

"It was nice to get back out in some game action, and the boys in front of me provided me with some pretty good support in the first period," Mason said.

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.

NOTES: Flyers D Brandon Manning served the first of his two-game suspension for his hit on Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel in Saturday's 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh at Heinz Field. ... In response to fans throwing their hats on the ice even though there wasn't a hat trick, the Flyers offered 30 percent off hats in the team's store. ... Bednar turned 45 on Tuesday. ... Philadelphia's Sean Couturier bettered Gabriel Landeskog in a first-period fight. ... Flyers' Michael Raffl (lower body) was injured late in the second period and didn't return.


Avalanche: Play the second game of a three-game road trip at Ottawa on Thursday night.

Flyers: Host Florida on Thursday night.

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