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Return Flight: Ending a 12-year losing streak in Columbus

The Flyers hadn’t won in Columbus since December of 2005, but Sean Couturier was there to save the day.

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Heading into a mid-February game vs. Columbus, the Flyers were looking to win their first game at Nationwide Arena in over 12 years. The last time the team had won in the state of Ohio was December of 2005, behind goals from Peter Forsberg, Jeff Carter, and Sami Kapanen. Oh, and to really drive home the point it was a very long time ago, Robert Esche was in goal and the Blue Jackets were still in the Western Conference. Good times!

Anyway, back to the point of focus here. The Flyers were in the midst of yet another late-season surge to make the playoffs after losing 10 straight earlier in the season. Coming into this day, the team was on a run that included two four-game winning streaks sandwiched around a four-game losing streak. Just in case you forgot how maddening this team has been over the past five years.

Their most recent game was a 5-4 shootout loss at the hands of an upstart Devils team. A win vs. Columbus would put them two points up on the Devils, and put Columbus further back as they were six points behind the Flyers. A win here would not only exercise some demons, it would be a huge four points for a bubble team in the Flyers.

The first period saw no scoring action as Michal Neuvirth, surprisingly not injured at the time, was in net vs. Sergei Bobrovsky. Needless to say, this was quite the mismatch on paper. In the second period, the Flyers would strike first as Wayne Simmonds parked himself in front of Bobrovsky, and deflected a Shayne Gostisbehere shot to the back of the net.

The game woul remain 1-0 until in typical Flyers fashion, they gave up a late goal that sent the game into overtime. Cam Atkinson jumped on a loose puck in the slot after a point shot from David Savard, and beat Neuvirth on a turn-around backhander. Watching again, I really don’t know what exactly Neuvirth was doing on this goal, but I don’t know why I’m surprised by this.

So to overtime we went, and a duo that was lighting it up this season put in some work for the winner. Travis Konecny stripped Artemi Panarin of the puck, and instead of immediately rushing up the ice he peeled backwards. While at the time I’m sure all of us were screaming at our TV’s, wondering what the hell he was thinking, before we could even get the words out he had made a perfect backhand pass to Sean Couturier to start a two-on-one. Couturier was joined by Ivan Provorov and what happened next really symbolized the transformation Couturier went through that season.

If this play happened the year before in 2016-17, or any year before that to be honest, Couturier is passing that puck probably 100 percent of the time. In the middle of a breakout season though, where he had become the team’s first line center, the Arizona native took matters into his own hands. He wired a wrister by Bobrovsky to give the Flyers the win, putting them two points to the good over New Jersey, and ending a 12-year-long losing streak.

Previous Return Flights

Chicago Blackhawks

New Jersey Devils

Vancouver Canucks

Calgary Flames

Edmonton Oilers

Dallas Stars