The Philadelphia Flyers visited Columbus, Ohio Saturday afternoon for a matinee game against the high powered Blue Jackets. Unfortunately, the outcome was not what fans were hoping for, but was probably not all that unexpected either. Columbus shut out the visiting Flyers 1-0 in the 2:00 PM game.
Coach Hakstol maintained the lines from the win over the Wild from Thursday night. The only change he made was to insert Michael Neuvirth in net for Steve Mason. Mason is expected to start the 2nd half of the weekend back to back series against Pittsburgh tomorrow evening.
Former Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was in net for Columbus having gone 8-0-2 in his last 10 starts with a GAA of 1.18 and a .963 save percentage. He ended up having little difficulty posting the shutout of his former team. The Flyers did manage to put up 36 shots on goal. Most were perimeter shots or fairly routine shots from the middle which did not come with much net front traffic.
The Flyers got an early power play when Boone Jenner hit Val Filppula with a high stick about 4 minutes into the game. Unfortunately, the Flyers were unable to even get set up in the Columbus end until the 2nd unit took the ice and even then they did not generate much of an attack.
Things got physical pretty early on in the game as Wayne Simmonds and Brandon Dubinsky shared some face washes and went to the box for matching minors. Neither team would score on the resulting 4-4 play.
Columbus got their first power play at the 12:27 mark on a questionable call as Cam Atkinson flopped to the ice to draw a trip on Nick Schultz. Like the Flyers, they were unable to convert on the opportunity.
The first intermission came with no score in the game. Philly out-shot Columbus in the period 11 to 5.
The second period saw a continuation of the physical play as after many stops the players would end up pushing and shoving. Around the 8 minute mark, Radko Gudas hit Boone Jenner and followed up with a shot to the jaw. The two squared off and dropped the gloves, but they ended up tumbling to the ice before any real punches were landed. Gudas would pick up an extra 2 minutes for the scrum, but Columbus came up short again.
Soon after the power play ended, Columbus would convert on an in close deflection by Wennberg of a Kyle Quincy shot. Wayne Simmonds had broken his stick and the Flyers were unable to clear the zone. A turnover would end up with Quincy having the puck on his stick which allowed Wennberg to get the puck past a helpless Neuvirth.
Travis Konecny drew a penalty on Seth Jones at the 15:07 mark of the second, but again the Flyers did not convert. They were able to set up and maintain some attack zone time on this power play. With time ticking down, there was a scrum in front of Bobrovsky that resulted in Jake Voracek drawing another penalty on Columbus. There was only 7 seconds left in the period however, so Philly would take the third with the man advantage.
Once again, the Flyers looked better on this man advantage, but were unable to convert it into a goal. The Flyers kept up the pressure through the first 10 minutes of the final period having several chances on net. They began to slow down as the second half of the period however and Columbus took control and kept the Flyers to the perimeter for most of the third and managed to keep much of the play in the Flyers end of the ice.
With time winding down, Neuvirth headed to the bench for the extra attacker. Columbus iced the puck twice in the waning 2 minutes, but Philly was unable to get anything past Bobrovsky and he held on for the shutout.
Neuvirth played well keeping the Flyers in the game. He was a little shaky on some shots on net, but made several key saves stopping 20 of 21 shots on net for a .952 save percentage for the game.
The Flyers again out-shot Columbus in the second period by a 13 to 8 margin. For the game, Philly out-shot Columbus 36 to 21 and outhit the home team 15 to 10. While the Flyers did have more energy and produces more shots than in some of their recent lifeless games, this loss probably puts the nail in the coffin of their outside chances of returning to the post season.
It does not get any easier tomorrow as they visit the Penguins in Pittsburgh.
Written by: Kevin Fortier
Follow him on twitter at @ksfortier