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Blue Jackets blank Flyers with Bobrovsky's 37 saves

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- Sergei Bobrovsky had a lot of good games at Wells Fargo Center. He had another one Thursday, but this time the home fans weren't all that pleased.

In his first start in Philadelphia against his former team, Bobrovsky stopped all 37 shots he faced to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 2-0 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers.

James Wisniewski had a goal and an assist and Brandon Dubinsky also had a goal as the Blue Jackets pulled within two points of the Flyers for third place in the Metropolitan Division. It also marked the first time the Blue Jackets have won a game in Philadelphia; they had been 0-5 with one tie in six previous visits.

The Blue Jackets (39-30-7) stayed one point ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the race for the second Eastern Conference wild-card position in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Columbus is one point behind the Detroit Red Wings, who hold the first wild-card spot. The Flyers (39-28-9) dropped four points behind the New York Rangers in the race for second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Bobrovsky's fourth shutout of the season was all the sweeter because he did it against the team with which he spent his first two NHL seasons before the Flyers traded him to the Blue Jackets on June 22, 2012.

"It was special, definitely," Bobrovsky said. "It was exciting there. It was different. It's tough to explain, but it was special."

Bobrovsky's teammates could sense how important it was to him to get the win.

"It obviously meant a lot to him," Dubinsky said. "To be back here in Philly ... when you get traded from a team, it always feels good to go into their building and beat them."

It also felt good for the Blue Jackets to not just protect a third-period lead but build on it. In their previous visit to Philadelphia, they allowed five goals in the final 20 minutes, and a 3-0 lead turned into a 5-4 loss. On Tuesday, they led the Colorado Avalanche 2-0 after 40 minutes only to see Colorado rally for a 3-2 overtime victory.

"It's a pretty resilient group," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "Maybe we're just so young that we don't know any better, but we're able to put games behind us and put plays behind us and push forward."

Leading 1-0 after two periods Thursday, Columbus carried the play in the third and got Dubinsky's deflection goal at 3:20.

"Right place, right time," said Dubinsky, who was in the slot with his back to Cam Atkinson when Atkinson's shot deflected off Dubinsky's skate and between the pads of Flyers goalie Steve Mason. "It's one of those where you just go to the net, guy throws it, and you get rewarded. It goes off your skate and in. Huge insurance goal for our team."

Philadelphia outshot the Blue Jackets 10-9 in the final period, but most of those shots came in the final 2:34 after Mason had been pulled for an extra attacker.

"The best thing is that our determination to get that second goal, how big that second goal is," Wisniewski said. "And we had chances after that. Instead of backing off ... I always say that prevent defense only prevents you from winning. So for us we just kept at it, kept at our game plan, and it just takes a little wind out of their sails because they're not having wave after wave coming into our defensive zone."

A frustrated Philadelphia team is winless in three straight (0-1-2) and has been shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 28 and Dec. 3, 2009. The Flyers have gone 130:25 without a goal, dating to the final minute of regulation in their game Sunday against the Boston Bruins. They lost 1-0 in a shootout against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.

Mason, on the one-year anniversary of his trade to the Flyers by the Blue Jackets, stopped 25 of 27 shots.

"We came out flat," Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said of his team's performance in the third period. "We let them come into our zone too easy and let them move the puck around way too easy. The first two periods I thought we battled, were strong on pucks. The third period, I don't know if it was that power-play goal they scored late [in the second period] or what it was, but to come out in the third period that flat was not our M.O. Hasn't been our M.O. all year."

Adding to the Flyers' struggles was a power play that went 0-for-4 and managed three shots, including two shots on three first-period chances. That extended a run of futility with the man advantage to 0-for-11 in their past four games.

"It was bad," Hartnell said of the power play. "We were chasing the puck around. Seemed like they had more chances then we did. I don't think we were on our toes ready to attack them."

The Flyers were ready in the second period when they outshot the Blue Jackets 17-9, but Columbus got the only goal when Wisniewski scored on the power play with 2:53 left.

With Sean Couturier off for slashing, the Blue Jackets worked the puck around the top of the Philadelphia zone. Mark Letestu slid down to the left circle and found Wisniewski open along the goal line. Wisniewski took one stride and slid the puck under Mason and inside the far post.

"First period, I thought we managed it pretty well," Richards said. "We came out and did some of the things we wanted to do. Second period, I think turnovers [hurt]. Wasn't our game, at least the way we needed to play, making their defensemen turn and go all the way back. Kind of fed into their rush-attack game. ... I really like the way it started with the first shift (in the third). We got it up quick in their zone, Dubinsky was first on the puck, and we ended up winning some battles and we spent more time in their zone."

There isn't much time for Columbus to savor the win; the Blue Jackets host the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

"Eyes got to stay on the prize, and that's Chicago [Friday]," Dubinsky said. "We have to prepare for that. We're in a good position, not like we were last year where we had to continue to watch and hope and chase teams. We're right where we want to be; we just have to keep our foot on the gas and try to take care of [Friday] and help ourselves."

Flyers captain Claude Giroux, despite another loss and the offensive frustration, said he saw enough good things that he isn't overly concerned with how his team is playing.

"We know how we have to play to be successful," he said. "Even if we didn't score I think we did a lot of good things. That's what we want. We want to make sure we keep moving forward."

Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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