BLUE JACKETS 4 | FLYERS 3
The Blue Jackets needed big performances from their best players in order to end a nine-game losing skid. They hopped on Blue Jackets Air tonight and headed back to Columbus having done just that, and the result was exactly what they were looking for.
Columbus got an early lead and never trailed, leading by as many as two goals and holding a one-goal margin for the majority of the third period. Curtis McElhinney, who by his own admission didn't play up to his standards in his last two starts, held the fort in the third period and his teammates gave him ample assistance, as well. The Blue Jackets put the skid on ice with a 4-3 victory at Wells Fargo Center in Scott Hartnell's first game back in Philadelphia, which was almost a sub-plot after the final buzzer.
Ryan Johansen set a new career-high with four points (all assists), James Wisniewski scored two power play goals and Nick Foligno scored a pair of his own - and especially early on, special teams were the story of the game.
The Blue Jackets were 3-for-4 on the power play, the Flyers were 3-for-3 and it was a lengthy 5-on-3 in the second period is what helped the Blue Jackets pull away. Consecutive tripping penalties to Jason Akeson and Sean Couturier gave Columbus a golden opportunity to take control of the game, and when they desperately needed it, the power play delivered.
Johansen controlled the puck up high, got a shot through and Wisniewski cleaned up the rebound for a 4-2 lead, giving the Jackets some much-needed breathing room.
But early in the third period, the Flyers got a lift courtesy of Michael Del Zotto, who scored off the rush with one second left on a Corey Tropp tripping penalty to bring Philadelphia within 4-3. From there, though, the Blue Jackets played a solid and composed third period, got pucks in deep and forced the Flyers to play a full-ice game to generate offense.
And for Hartnell in particular, this skid-stopper was even more special.
"It's always great to come in and beat your old team," Hartnell said. "It was a special night."
The Blue Jackets made several big plays tonight, sacrificing their bodies to block shots and clean up McElhinney's front porch - but no goal was more important than the game-winner by Wisniewski. The 5-on-3 was a turning point and the Blue Jackets converted, tallying a huge goal when they absolutely needed it.
1 - Wisniewski (CBJ)
2 - Foligno (CBJ)
3 - Voracek (PHI)
vs. San Jose Sharks
Saturday, 7 p.m. ET