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Blue Jackets, Flyers meet for final time this season

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

NOTE: Records are effective as of Mar. 21, 2016.

The Philadelphia Flyers just can’t seem to catch a break right now.

A strong run after the trade deadline has vaulted them into playoff contention, and while they’re still very much alive, it’s proving to be a difficult road as the season grows older. A regulation win over the Red Wings last week pushed them above the playoff bar, but a Detroit regulation win in Columbus essentially flipped positions.

Last weekend, however, was particularly tough when it comes to the Flyers’ chances. They lost in regulation to Pittsburgh at home, then the Penguins won the next night against Washington and Detroit picked up a regulation win over Florida. As it stands entering Tuesday’s game at Nationwide Arena, the Flyers have three points to make up on the Red Wings but they have two games in hand.

The Flyers come into Columbus Tuesday night playing the second game of a four-game road swing, one that begins Monday in Brooklyn and concludes with games in Colorado and Arizona later this week. Philadelphia finishes the month of March at home against Winnipeg and Washington before splitting three home and three road games in April.

If you’re the Blue Jackets, it’s one you would like to forget.

The night before, Columbus played a solid game on home ice against the Edmonton Oilers and got two goals from David Savard in a 6-3 win – the third time this month they’ve scored at least five goals in a game, twice scoring six. After that, the Blue Jackets were off to Wells Fargo Center to complete a weekend back-to-back, and let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.

Philadelphia scored twice in each period, and leading the way offensively was defenseman Radko Gudas, who had a career night with two goals and two assists. Gudas’ first goal (scored at 11:45 of the first period) came from center ice, making for an all-around tough night for the Blue Jackets.

Artemi Panarin (Chicago) seems to be the favorite for the Calder Trophy and Connor McDavid (Edmonton) is in the conversation, as well, but Shayne Gostisbehere deserves to be right in there with both players.

The highly-regarded defenseman out of Union College has made an instant and profound impact in Philadelphia, making his NHL debut Nov. 14 in Raleigh and then scoring his first career goal a few nights later against Los Angeles.

Gostisbehere, 22, has 16 goals and 39 points in only 52 games, making him the Flyers’ leading scoring defenseman by 20 points and fifth overall in team scoring. Not only does he skate the puck out of danger and have great instincts in transition, but his shot is a weapon and the Flyers like to get him open for one-timers on the power play. On Feb. 13, his game-tying goal against New Jersey set a new NHL record for rookies, giving him points in 11 consecutive games. That points streak would end at 15 games on Feb. 23.

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