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Flyers 4, Blue Jackets 1: Atkinson’s return to Columbus results in win

The cannon wasn’t fully silenced, but we’ll take it.

Cam Atkinson out on the ice raises his arm in salute to the fans that are honoring him for his return to Columbus Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

Home-and-homes are truly such weird scheduling quirks. “Hey, we know you two just played each other in this city. Well, now you’re going to both fly out to the next city and play each other again. Have fun.”

The other thing about home-and-homes is that when your team loses first, you just dread the next matchup. After all, you just lost. What is there to feel optimistic about going into the next game?

Yet, it can happen. A team can split the two games and get the upper hand the second time around. Guess what? The Flyers actually managed to do just that! They avoided being swept this season by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Period 1

An early penalty for too many men on the ice showed that the Flyers are far from the only team with an abysmal power play. It almost felt like the Blue Jackets weren’t even trying to score with their man advantage.

The period also flew by in the early going with very little whistles. Part of it was the fact that there weren’t any good shots for the goalies to freeze. In fact, there weren’t many shots on goal period. Despite the speed of the clock ticking down, I’d describe the play on ice itself as lethargic. It felt like the puck kind of floated from one end of the ice to the other with not many high danger chances to show for each team’s possession.

Honestly, if I weren’t writing the recap, which requires keeping my attention focused on the game, I’d have started picking up my current crochet project and let the sounds of hockey fade into background noise.

The Flyers were then gifted a power play, and they basically decided to look at the awful effort from the Blue Jackets and say, “We can do worse.” They allowed a shorthanded goal from Eric Robinson.

The Flyers didn’t have much of a chance to tie it back up because Columbus went on the power play again in the final two minutes. Even though the Blue Jackets once again didn’t have a great showing on their power play, the Flyers were incapable of a matching shorthanded tally themselves.

A pretty dull, lackluster period ended 1-0, Blue Jackets.

Period 2

Once again, the period honestly lagged to start. The first real major action that stood out was when a shot from Jack Roslovic hit the crossbar, bounced just right to look like it was going to be dangerous, but then Martin Jones was able to stop it with his butt.

Almost out of nowhere, Kevin Connauton forced a neutral zone turnover, took the puck down ice, and decided to do it all himself instead of passing it. It worked, because he scored his first goal of the season. Personally, I love when defensemen say, “You know what, I’m gonna be the forward now,” so this was a fun goal in that respect.

This goal was followed up by Owen Tippett’s second as a Flyer. It was another nice shot from off the faceoff dot that none of the Blue Jackets could get their sticks on in time to stop.

Noah Cates then scored, which was a beautifully flukey play. It bounced off the boards, and he shot the puck across, which then bounced off Elvis Merzlikins just right to wind up in the back of the net. It’s not very often that this kind of puck luck works in favor for the Flyers, so this was a nice turn of events.

After 40 minutes of play, the Flyers turned their fortunes around and came up with a 3-1 lead.

Period 3

The game started to honestly go back to the feel of the first period where there wasn’t a whole lot happening. There were some good looks for players like Ivan Provorov, but there was nothing to show for it. Now, sometimes this is just what happens when a team defends the lead. Still, it could have been a little more entertaining.

It wasn’t until about three minutes left that Travis Konecny padded the Flyers’ lead with a goal. There was a bit of confusion at first about whether he had actually scored, but it was definitely a goal.

With that, it was all the Flyers needed. They beat the Blue Jackets 4-1.

Final thoughts

No, this wasn’t the world’s most entertaining hockey game. There were honestly too many stretches of play where there just wasn’t a whole lot of anything going on between both teams.

However, the Flyers won it. Not only did they win it, but they had a lead going into the third period that they didn’t relinquish — and in fact, they added to it! The bar is honestly quite low for what could be considered a successful game for the Flyers. There were a few other hurdles it would’ve been nice to see the Flyers clear, such as figuring out that the power play is about themselves scoring, not the opponent. But hey, baby steps.

Also, the Flyers were perhaps extra motivated to win this one for Atkinson. After all, the Flyers have managed to come up big for their teammates in important moments before. See: Claude Giroux’s 1,000th game. A return to a city that Atkinson never really wanted to leave and ultimately plans to make his permanent home is the perfect time to have a revenge game of sorts. Atkinson never got on the scoresheet, but sometimes those little intangibles make a difference.

The Flyers are back in action at home against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday, April 9 at 7:30 p.m ET.