Nathan MacKinnon joins growing Avalanche injured list in road loss at Philadelphia Flyers

Dec. 5—PHILADELPHIA — Injuries continue to decimate the Avalanche.

Their latest absence might be the most worrisome to date: Nathan MacKinnon.

The star forward left Colorado's 5-3 road loss Monday at the Philadelphia Flyers with an upper-body injury in the first period. He did not return. The exact timing of MacKinnon's injury was unclear. Coach Jared Bednar said: "I have no idea."

MacKinnon winced in pain while taking a shot during a power-play chance. He also received several hard hits from Flyers center Scott Laughton on the boards. MacKinnon's timeline for return is unknown. He returned home with the team for further medical evaluation.

"Guys are going to have to step up. It's going to be a challenge," Bednar said. "It seems to be getting worse at this point. But you just can't put contingencies on your work, your effort and your attitude. You've got to go out and play hard every night, regardless of the cards you're dealt."

MacKinnon joins a double-digit list of Avalanche players on the mend: Shane Bowers, Bowen Byram, Darren Helm, Jean-Luc Foudy, Gabe Landeskog, Artturi Lehkonen, Kurtis MacDermid, Josh Manson, Valeri Nichushkin and Evan Rodrigues.

The Avs are now missing five of their top seven forwards.

"This is probably as bad as I can remember," Bednar said.

Colorado played musical chairs Monday with the roster in separating MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen for the first time this season. MacKinnon stuck on the top line with Logan O'Connor and Andrew Cogliano. Rantanen dropped to the second line with Charles Hudon (called up from the AHL) and Alex Newhook.

MacKinnon tallied 33 points to begin the year.

"It's a big loss. Early in the game on a long road trip," Newhook said. "For him to go down obviously wasn't great. But we have guys that can step up. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough tonight."

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Galchenyuk, Megna waived

The Avalanche waived forwards Alex Galchenyuk and Jayson Megna prior to the start of Monday's game in Philadelphia. Both still played against the Flyers. Galchenyuk committed two penalties. Megna recorded three hits and one shot on goal.

Galchenyuk and Megna can return immediately to the Avalanche if they clear waivers. The team can also send one or both players down to the AHL.

The moves suggest Nichushkin (knee surgery) might be nearing a return to the lineup. Galchenyuk, signed for the remainder of this season, has mostly underperformed in four games with the Avalanche recording zero points.

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GAMER BOX

Flyers 5, Avalanche 3

What happened: The Avalanche closed a disappointing road trip at 1-3. Their injury plagued roster now resembles an American Hockey League team.

What went right: Alex Newhook opened the game with a power-play goal and scored again in the third period. He took a puck off the face on a Cale Makar third period shot but returned to play. Charles Hudon — a longtime Canadiens forward (2015-20) — made his Avalanche debut after being called up from the AHL. Coach Jared Bednar said: "Noticeably one of our best forwards." Mikko Rantanen scored his 15th goal of the season.

What went wrong: Nathan MacKinnon left the game with an upper-body injury in the first period and was ruled out for return. Philadelphia — a bad team in a rebuilding phase — scored four unanswered goals (twice on power-play chances). The Avs were unable to capitalize on momentum after consecutive goals scored late in the third period. The Flyers potted an empty-netter to close the game.

Between the pipes: Avs goalie Alexandar Georgiev made 29-of-33 saves. Flyers' netminder Carter Hart finished with 29 stops on 32 Colorado shots on goal.

What's next: The Avalanche (13-9-1) return home Wednesday to face the Boston Bruins.