COLUMBUS, Ohio – The magic wasn’t available a second game in a row.
In a game of ever-shifting momentum, the Flyers once again found themselves trailing by two goals in the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
And although they were again able to score consecutive goals in a time frame that would make the Jimmy John’s delivery guy blush, the prospect of another epic third period rally wilted away with a combination of too many turnovers in the neutral zone, a bevy of odd man rushes against, and a series of shots on goal through traffic that probably should have been thwarted en route by forwards getting in the way that didn’t happen.
The end result was a 6-3 loss at the hands of the Blue Jackets, that was a lot closer a game than the score would
|Vinny Lecavalier returned to the Flyers lineup and picked up an assist, but it wasn't enough to help the Flyers take two straight from Columbus. |
indicate. After all, it was 2-2 after two periods and the game kind of hung in the balance until former Flyer R.J. Umberger scored an empty netter with 1:17 to play for his second goal of the game to put a seal on the Jackets win.
“We need to do a better job of blocking shots up top with our wingers,” coach Craig Berube said. “I don’t think we were flat. We turned the puck over in the neutral zone, but the shots that got through, for me, they should have been blocked by our forwards.”
It was a surprisingly specific thing for the coach to focus on and was likely one missed by those watching with an untrained eye or being forced to take in the game on television, but in retrospect, Berube is probably right.
While it would be easy to suggest that the defense didn’t do a good enough job clearing out the traffic in front of Ray Emery (missing Nick Grossmann to the flu was certainly part of that problem) because two goals were scored on tip-ins in front and a third was scored with a mass of humanity setting a screen by practically sipping pink lemonade on Emery’s porch, the fact remains that Berube felt the shots never should have gotten on net to begin with and should have been stopped by the forwards.
Upon closer examination, on the two goals that made the biggest difference in the game, that was exactly the issue.
After the Flyers scored twice in 20 seconds to erase an early 2-0 deficit on goals by Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier, the Flyers had to be happy going into the locker room in the second intermission tied.
And they actually emerged at the start of the third with some jump and looking like they could be headed for another dominating stretch of hockey against the Jackets like they provided for much of the game Thursday against them in Philadelphia.
But Columbus got a quick push up ice after a no look pass from Luke Schenn went astray and allowed Columbus to set up shop in the Flyers zone.
Eventually the puck was worked back to the point to David Savard who fired a shot that went over Emery’s stick-side shoulder to make it 3-2 Jackets.
On the shot though, Zac Rinaldo made a feeble attempt at blocking the shot and probably could have if he took a more aggressive body position to take away the shooting lane.
Two minutes later, in a similar situation from the other side of the ice, Nikita Nikitin ripped a shot that was deflected by Boone Jenner and past Emery for 4-2.
On that goal, Simmonds tried to get back to block the shot, but couldn’t quite make it. The effort was there, but he likely over committed to the play on the other side of the ice and left too much room for Nikitin to get a shot toward the net.
|Brayden Coburn did his best to break up this 2-on-1, but Ryan Johansen was still able to get the shot off and score the fifth goal for the Jackets. |
Those two goals put the Flyers in a position where they had to press to try to tie the score and it led to a number of odd-man rushes the other way, finally getting burned when Ryan Johansen made a nifty move on a 2-on-1 to snipe Emery and stretch it to 5-2.
“We gave up a lot, but a majority of them came in the third period after we were down two goals,” Simmonds said. “When you’re down and you’re trying to get up on the rush and press to get two goals back it’s going to happen.”
Simmonds was able to score again with an extra attacker to trim it to 5-3 as it looked like the Flyers may have one last gasp, but Umberger put an end to the game with the empty-netter, thwarting the notion of a second dramatic comeback by the Flyers in as many games.
With the loss the Flyers (16-16-4, 36 points) fell back to faux .500, but slipped a spot in the standings as the New Jersey Devils leap frogged them into the No. 3 spot by one point. The Flyers also fell to four points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the final wild card spot, but still have two games in hand on them.
NOTES: Vinny Lecavalier returned to the lineup two weeks ahead of schedule replacing Steve Downie who went on injured reserve with an undisclosed upper body injury. Lecavalier played 16:36, picked up an assist and won seven-of-eight faceoffs… Grossmann missed the game with the flu. Hal Gill replaced him playing for the first time since early November. Gill played 14:31... Jake Voracek got an assists on the second Simmonds goal to stretch his scoring streak to a career-best seven games… Claude Giroux had an assist and extended his scoring streak to six games… Zac Rinaldo laid a brutal hit on Marian Gaborik, breaking the Columbus star’s collar bone… Referee Dan O’Rourke had to leave the game in the first period after suffering a skate cut in his chest following a strange collision with Jackets forward Corey Tropp. The other referee – Darcy Burchell – finished the game alone.
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