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NHL scores 2016: Avalanche blow game and playoff opportunity to Flyers

The one that got away.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Depending on which storyline you prefer, the Philadelphia Flyers either pulled off their best comeback of the season or the Colorado Avalanche suffered their worst collapse of the year.

I'm going with the latter narrative, personally.

Everything set up perfectly for the Avalanche. The Minnesota Wild had completed a convincing win earlier in the night, riding a Zach Parise hat trick to a three-point lead over the Avs in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

Colorado needed a win. Badly. And it evaporated as soon as it was in sight.

With 5:38 left, they let hulking defenseman Radko Gudas score his fifth of the year from just inside the blueline to tie the game. And then, 19 seconds later, the Avs' top defenseman betrayed them.

It's hard to understate how vulnerable the Flyers were on Thursday. They just suffered one of the more demoralizing losses of any team this season, and they had to know at some point that the Detroit Red Wings would overtake them for the final Eastern Conference wild card spot if they fell in Denver.

Instead, the Flyers get the wind back in their sails and the Avalanche let an important opportunity slip away. Maybe there's something more to it, though...

That rivalry will never die.


Panthers 4, Bruins 1

Devils 3, Penguins 0

Hurricanes 3, Blue Jackets 2

Maple Leafs 6, Ducks 5 (OT)

Red Wings 4, Canadiens 3

Predators 3, Canucks 2

Wild 6, Flames 2

Jets 4, Kings 1

Flyers 4, Avalanche 2

Coyotes 3, Stars 1

Oilers 6, Sharks 3

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3 things we learned

1. The Wild don't let sentimentality get in the way of progress

Nicklas Backstrom spent nine years with the Wild, and the 38-year-old netminder returned for the first time as a Calgary Flame on Thursday. Minnesota offered a touching tribute video, but otherwise showed no remorse as they lit him up. The main offender was Zack Parise, who can be forgiven since they were teammates for only a few years:

2. Anthony Mantha makes his grandparents proud

The Red Wings rookie notched his first career goal, and his grandfather, former Red Wings player Andre Pronovost, couldn't hold the tears back.

3. Roberto Luongo has no problem taunting ex-teammates

Just ask Jimmy Hayes.

Luongo is basically a large child playing hockey and it's the best.

Impact Moment

Two big points were on the line between the Bruins and Panthers. Considering it was a one-goal game when Patrice Bergeron's apparent goal was ruled a no-goal, the referee's decision was the turning point of the game.


Stat of the Night