PHILADELPHIA, Pa- As the race in the Metropolitan division heats up, the fourth place Columbus Blue Jackets headed to Philadelphia to face the Flyers for the final meeting this season.
The first meeting between the clubs took place on December 19th, Mason lead the Flyers in 5-4 win. Continuing the home on home series on December 21st, Columbus took the two points in a 6-3 loss. January 23rd marked the last showdown, Flyers falling once again 5-2. Emery was in net for the last two meetings. Claude Giroux had 5 points in the last three meeting against the Blue Jackets.
Just two games shy of hitting his career high in wins, Steve Mason took the net for the Flyers after having three days of rest. Returning to Philadelphia stood Sergei Bobrovsky in between the pipes for Columbus.
Early in the first period, the Flyers had the first opportunity on the power play just over a minute into the period. Unable to produce, Philadelphia had ample chances throughout the period.
Mason and Bobrovsky dominated the net, not allowing the puck to pass the line. The score remained at zero at the end of the 1st period.
With the second frame underway, Giroux wasted no time in setting up pucks to the net. Only three minutes into the 2nd period, the Flyers produced 6 shots on goal; Bobrovsky mounted in front of the posts.
Drawing a penalty with four seconds left in the penalty kill, Sean Couturier had a chance on a breakaway. The power play came and went, Flyers once again unable to perform.
Couturier was guilty of slashing and was sent to the box. Executing on the power play, James Wisniewski netted in his 7th goal of the season giving the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead with 4 minutes remaining in the period.
Ending the second period, Flyers lead the Blue Jackets in shots 27 to 18.
In the final 20 minutes of the game, Columbus increased their lead early in the period. Brandon Dubinsky scored his 16th goal of the season.
Sloppy play continued for the orange and black, incapable of clearing their zone. Disappointed fans let on their frustration as the final minute ticked down to zero.
Flyers fell to the Blue Jackets 2-0, allowing former Flyer Sergei Bobrovsky to earn the shutout.
Blue Jackets Head Coach Todd Richards discussed Bobrovsky’s shutout against his former team, “It’s great for Bob,” he said. “You want to see good players and good guys do well, and Bob is that guy. It’s never about him…it’s all about the team. You can ask any of the players – everybody in that room is really happy for him.” Bobrovsky made 37 saves against the Flyers.
“We came out flat,” Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said after reflection on the third period effort, “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.”
Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds commented on the Flyers struggle on the power play, “The power play has to step it up,” he said. “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. If we weren’t getting chances I’d be more concerned.”
With only 6 points needed to clinch a playoff position, the final 6 games of the season could never be more crucial.
Goaltender vs. Goaltender
April 3rd marked the one year anniversary since Steve Mason was traded to Philadelphia from Columbus in exchange for goaltender, Michael Leighton. Facing his former team exactly a year later, Mason expected a big night for his team.
When asked about playing in Philadelphia Mason said “I just felt at home here, somewhere where I was comfortable playing,” the goaltender said. “There’s just something about this organization that unless you’ve pulled the sweater on, it’s hard to explain. There’s a sense of pride that comes with it, and it’s a pretty cool feeling.” He added. “I could not be any happier here. I’m sure Sergei is obviously happy being in Columbus having the success he’s had there.” He continued. “For myself, I just don’t look back anymore. I had my fresh start late last season here. This is an opportunity and a privilege to play for this organization and I’m grateful for it. I just look forward to being here for a long time.”
In January, Mason signed a three-year $12.3 million contract extension with the Flyers.
Traded to Columbus in 2012, Sergei Bobrovsky made his first start against the Flyers in a Blue Jackets jersey. “We’re both happy. I love it in Columbus, I love everything here. Mase I think is happy there. I think it’s been good for both of us.” Bobrovsky said.
The two goaltenders had nothing but nice words to say about one another.
“He’s an incredibly hard worker,” Mason said about Bobrovsky. “He’s earned everything he’s got right now. It’s nice to see an athlete rewarded for all the hard work he’s put in.”
“Mase is a great guy,” said Bobrovsky. “He’s a great teammate and a really good goaltender. I think it’s going to be a great matchup.”
Kimmo Timonen returned to the lineup against the Blue Jackets after suffering an upper body injury Sunday afternoon against the Boston Bruins. With Andrew MacDonald experiencing a sore foot, Erik Gustafsson dressed for Thursday night’s game but did not get into the lineup. Steve Downie is closer to returning to the lineup after leaving the game against St. Louis on March 22nd and is expected to make an appearance on the ice Saturday or Sunday. Meanwhile Tye McGinn remains on the roaster.
The Flyers are set to visit Boston to face the Bruins for the final meeting this season on Saturday afternoon. In the 4-3 shootout loss on Sunday, the Flyers are out to seek revenge. With a quick return home, the Flyers welcome the Buffalo Sabres Sunday night. Puck drop between the Flyers and Bruins is set for 1 p.m. Saturday.