The Blue Jackets will travel to Philadelphia for their second showdown with the Flyers in five days, wrapping up the season series at Wells Fargo Center. The Jackets have had their way with the Flyers this season, going 3-1-0 against their Metropolitan Division foe including two overtime victories and Friday’s dramatic third period comeback.
The Flyers responded to their third period misstep on Friday with a road victory in Buffalo on Sunday night. Tied midway through the third period, Michael Raffl’s wrap-around squeezed through the pads of Sabres goaltender Michael Neuvirth for the eventual game-winner. Ray Emery made 21 saves for the win, his fourth in his last six appearances including a terrific performance against the Jackets Friday despite surrendering four goals.
With the victory, the Flyers extended their points streak to nine games and now sit only five points behind the Bruins for the final wild card spot, though the Bruins do have one game in hand on the Flyers.
The Flyers’ climb up the standings has been largely because of their depth performers rather than their Big Two in Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux. Voracek has only one goal in his last 13 games, though he does have seven assists over that span. Giroux has two goals in his last 14 games, and none in his last eight games despite four assists.
The Flyers blue line has struggled this season, but may have a boost coming down the road. Kimmo Timonen has been skating for the past week as he works his way back from a blood-clotting condition that has kept him out for the entire season.
The Jackets took down the Flyers 4-3 in overtime on Friday night, marking their first come-from-behind victory in the third period this season. Down 3-1 early in the third period, the Jackets' fourth line got things going with a beauty after Corey Tropp made a quick pass to Jared Boll to make it a one-goal game, Boll's first goal in 63 games dating back to last season. Then with 4:40 left in regulation, Cam Atkinson buried the rebound of a Scott Hartnell shot to tie the game.
At 2:17 of overtime, James Wisniewski’s point shot landed at the feet of Artem Anisimov in front of the net. He buried it for his first goal since the home opener to give the Jackets two points in the standings.
Wayne Simmonds is always a matchup nightmare, and he had his way with the Blue Jackets on Friday. Simmonds is the prototypical power forward: a big, strong body who can skate and has the knack for finishing in front of the net. Both were on display Friday. In the first period, Simmonds showed off the speed by throwing into a second gear and splitting the Blue Jackets defense at the blue line to turn an innocent-looking transition rush into a mini-breakaway and a 1-0 Flyers lead. In the third, Simmonds was posted in front on the power play, immovable, and slammed a rebound past Curtis McElhinney to make it 3-1 Flyers before the comeback effort. Simmonds has five goals and five assists in the last eight games.
Brandon Dubinsky has found his offensive stride once again with two goals over the weekend, the opening scores against both the Flyers and Islanders on back-to-back nights. Dubinsky skated with authority in the two games while racking up two goals and an assist to give him five points in the past five games. His line as a whole has been solid since coach Todd Richards flanked Dubinsky with Cam Atkinson and Matt Calvert at the start of the weekend, with the trio accounting for four of the Jackets' seven goals on the weekend. “Dubinsky’s line was our best line over the weekend,” said Richards after Monday’s practice. “Even if you look at the little details of our game as far as puck support and coming up the ice with speed, that was our best group. So it’s not surprising to me why they’ve had success.”
The Blue Jackets have relied heavily on their power play for most of the season, with 38 of their 142 goals on the season coming with the man advantage (26.8 percent). However, in their past 10 games the Jackets are 1-for-24. It’s certainly a positive that the Jackets have scored 29 even strength goals over that stretch, but they need their sixth-ranked power play to produce and supplement that offense in order to win consistently. With the power play struggling, the team is 4-6-0 in those 10 games. The Flyers’ penalty kill is 28th in the NHL but has performed well of late, surrendering only three goals on 21 attempts (85.7 percent) over the last eight games.