The Flyers played a tough game against Columbus Saturday night, coming back from a 2-0 third period hole only to fall in a shootout to lose 3-2.
The Flyers hoped to build on a recent run of good play, having gone 7-2-1 in their last ten games, and perhaps get a little revenge for a 4-1 loss suffered at home against these Blue Jackets two weeks ago. This has resulted in the Flyers gaining ground in the playoff chase, and were four points out of the playoffs at the start of the night. They also had a chance to be tied for fourth in the Metro division with a win and a loss by New Jersey. In goal was Steve Mason, who was hoping to build off perhaps his best game of the season against Vancouver two nights ago, while earning a shutout having stopped all 36 shots he faced. After a five-game hiatus due to injury, Luke Schenn replaced Brandon Manning on the blue line along side Shayne Gostisbehere.
The Blue Jackets had a player come back of their own, with Ryan Johansen coming back after getting into Tortorella's doghouse and being a healthy scratch for their last game, a 7-5 win over the Coyotes. Tortorella's tactics haven't done much to turn around the fate of their disappointing season, with Columbus tied for last in the entire NHL with only 27 points in 34 games. In goal was not the ever-dreaded back-up goalie, but the backup backup goalie, with 2012 draft pick Joonas Korpisalo getting his third-ever NHL start. Once-upon-a-Flyer and Steve Coates favorite Sergei Bobrovsky was shelved with a groin injury.
The first period looked very familiar to Flyer fans familiar with Tortorella's days with the Rangers, as an aggressive penalty kill, blocked shots and an opportunistic offense paved the way for a 1-0 lead. The goal came just after the lone Columbus power play of the period, with Brandon Saad converting a feed from Brandon Dubinsky on a de fecto 2-on-1 down low, with Radko Gudas caught in no man's land between the two. This came just after Bellemare had a potential shorthanded goal slide just off his stick after Vandevelde picked the pocket of Nick Foligno. Dubinsky, as is his wont at times, also figured in some fireworks at the end of the period, as he appeared to have slew-footed Voracek along the boards. Wayne Simmonds didn't think too much of that and stood up for his teammate and whooped up on Dubinsky before being assessed an instigator, a major penalty, and a 10-minute misconduct. While losing a player of Simmond's character for that long isn't ideal, it is good to see the players stand up for each other in those situations. Shots were 16-9 Jackets, thanks in part to 8 blocked Flyer shots.
The second period was another frustrating period for the Flyers, as while the Flyers carried the play for large portions of the period, they failed to get anything in the net. Ryan White hit the goalpost 13 minutes into the period, and the Flyers were missing the net or having the puck miss on several good chances. Columbus would add to their lead on the power play after R.J. Umberger took a totally unnecessary penalty by high sticking Clarkson away from the play. A bouncing puck found its way to Ryan Murray in the high slot who, thanks in part to a Scott Hartnell screen, sniped it past Mason to increase the lead to 2-0. Shots that period were even at 10 a piece.
Just as horrific memories of Torts taking the air out of the puck on his home ice against the Flyers were swirling in all of our minds, the Flyers tried to remind the Jackets of their standing in life. Brandon Prust isn't walking through that door, if you catch my drift. After killing off yet another penalty, the Flyers started establishing play in the Jackets zone, and after a prolonged shift leaving the Columbus players out of gas, Scott Laughton was able to snipe on into the top-right corner for the Flyers first goal. After Shultz gave the Jackets their sixth powerplay of the game, the Flyers were able to even the score when Voracek, who has points in four straight games now, was able to beat Korpisalo again in the top-right corner to tie the score. This was set up by Gostisbehere deking Scott Hartnell in his own zone, then making a good pass out to Couturier, who then set up Voracek. Voracek, for his efforts, gets the third-ever Gold Star of the Game. The Flyers weren't done creating pressure, as Voracek was just a hair too late in converting a chance about 15 feet directly in front of the goal but Korpisalo was able to move to his left to stop the shot. No further goals were scored that period, so for the league-leading 14th time this year, this one went to OT. Shots were 12-8, in favor of Philly
In the overtime period, the Flyers continued to carry play, with Voracek and Del Zotto combining on a dangerous 2 on 1 chance that was stopped. The Jackets did get a few chances late as well, but Mason was huge in net, stopping Dubinsky on a behind-the-back chance in close. For only the fourth time out of those 14 OT contests, the game went to a shootout. Cam Atkinson scored on the first attempt at the skills competition, and after Giroux and Voracek both were stopped, everyone was feeling the bad juju that comes with the Flyers and the shootout. However, Simmonds was able to convert the third shot, prolonging the affair. But, come on, this is the Flyers in the shootout. You know what's going to happen. Noted wonderful human being Brandon Dubinsky, he who slew-footed Voracek earlier in the game, scored against Mason in the sixth round, and Brayden Schenn wasn't able to beat Korpisalo and that was that.
Other assorted observations:
- You have to think this was the type of game they were losing outright earlier in the year. Instead of just playing frustrated, angry hockey after being down 2-0, they fought back by playing composed, level-headed hockey, and got the game into overtime as a result.
- Over the course of a season, you would expect the officiating to even out- some games you'll be the beneficiary of some calls, some games will go against you, with most hopefully being neutral and the officiating not noticeable. In this game, especially in the third period, it looked like some cheap calls were called against the Flyers while the Jackets were getting away with some penalties. Of course, it's unknown what the impact of those penalties would have been, but it made the game harder than it would have been.
- Despite the loss, they did get another point in the standings, and with the Pens and Devils both losing, some ground was gained on those teams. If they want to make the playoffs this season, these points will be vital to the cause.
- A word to describe Mason this game would be solid. Allowing 2 goals on 37 shots is good, and he made quality stops within those 37 shots. He did his part to keep the team in the game.
The Flyers next game is at home on Monday night at 7, against St. Louis. Charlie will offer his usual insights on this game tomorrow morning.
Comment of the night:
Shouldn’t this goalie know that beating the Flyers in a shootout really isn’t that big of deal?
-Otto29, who knows what fate means and feels others should act accordingly