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NOTHING'S DOING

Flyers shut out for the second straight game in 2-0 loss to Blue Jackets

Thursday, 04.3.2014 / 11:14 PM ET / News
By Anthony SanFilippo  - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter
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NOTHING\'S DOING

PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers have made a living this season on being a third period team.

Which is why they were perplexed as to why their game faltered in the third period of a 2-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday.

Yes, it was the second straight game in which they were shutout – and that’s also perplexing – but if you segment the game out, the loss boils down to the first poor third period the Flyers have played in quite some time – probably since a 6-1 loss at home to Boston back on Jan. 25.

The first period was pretty evenly played. The Flyers seemed to control possession even though the shots ended up being close, with the Flyers holding a 10-9 edge.

The second period was all Flyers until Sean Couturier was whistled for a slashing penalty and the usually stout Flyers penalty kill got caught chasing the Blue Jackets with their best killer in the box and despite a few nice stops by goalie Steve Mason, Columbus was able to break the 0-0 deadlock on a stuffer from the side of the net by defenseman James Wisniewski.

It was from that point forward, that the Flyers fizzled. Normally willing to stare down a one goal deficit and challenge it, the Flyers were ambushed by a hard-charging Columbus squad who padded the lead 3:20 into the third period when a shot by Cam Atkinson caromed off of Brandon Dubinsky’s skate and past Mason for 2-0.

The Flyers were deflated from there.

Steve Mason made 25 saves, but he would have needed to be perfect for the Flyers to move closer to a playoff berth. Instead, they lost 2-0 and saw things tighten up around them in the Metropolitan Division.

“We came out flat,” said Scott Hartnell, who led the Flyers with eight shots on goal. “We let them come in our zone too easily and just let them move the puck around way too easily. The first two periods, I thought we battled. We were strong on pucks and everything. Then in the third period, I don’t know if it was that power play goal they scored late or what it was, but to come out in the third period that flat, that was not our M.O. and it hasn’t been our M.O. all year.”

It hasn’t. The Flyers are always a tenacious team in the third period and yet – for one night – that voracity was completely absent.

The players would never admit it, but sometimes, when you grow so accustomed to playing so well in the face of adversity, you just assume the needed focus and energy is going to be there.

On this night, it wasn’t.

“We did a lot of good things in the second,” said captain Claude Giroux. “We got impatient and started doing other things because it wasn’t going in but I wish we just kept playing the same way and keep forcing their team. But we kind of changed our game plan here.”

It wasn’t a good game plan either. The breakouts were substandard. The traffic in front of Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was minimal. And the usually excellent special teams came up empty. Not only did the PK give up a goal for just the third time in a month, but the power play was 0-for-4 without so much as any real sustained pressure with the man advantage.

“The power play has to step it up,” said Wayne Simmonds. “Special teams are going to be key – penalty kill and power play – and our power play hasn’t been the best the last few games.”

However, while recognizing their struggles, Simmonds also is confident that the power play will right itself – and soon.

“If we weren’t getting chances I’d be more concerned,” he said.

Games like this happen. The Blue Jackets are fighting for their playoff lives and while the Flyers technically are too, they had a little bit more breathing room. So the sense of urgency, while it should have matched the Jackets, didn’t.

Now the Flyers, whose magic number remained at six, have six games left starting in Boston Saturday, and are going to need to find themselves quickly to get back on the winning track in time for the playoffs.

To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
11 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
12 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 53 16 29 -8 45
J. Voracek 53 8 35 -3 43
W. Simmonds 53 20 16 -7 36
B. Schenn 51 15 15 1 30
S. Gostisbehere 35 9 20 4 29
S. Couturier 40 9 15 9 24
M. Read 51 9 9 -5 18
M. Raffl 53 7 7 5 14
S. Laughton 52 4 10 -7 14
M. Del Zotto 51 4 9 -8 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 13 14 7 .917 2.65
M. Neuvirth 11 6 2 .933 2.14
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