COLUMBUS, Ohio -- To call Nationwide Arena the Flyers’ house of horrors is an understatement.
In the last 14 times they had played there entering Wednesday, they had left with a loss in 13 of those games – and hadn’t won in regulation in Columbus since 2005.
The trend didn’t continue on Thanksgiving Eve.
Claude Giroux’s power-play goal late in the second period snapped a 2-2 tie and Brian Elliott finished with 28 saves as the Flyers defeated the Blue Jackets, 3-2, at Nationwide Arena.
In a Columbus-dominated third period, Elliott made 15 stops, none bigger than point blank saves on Josh Anderson with 6 minutes, 42 seconds remaining and Sonny Milano with 3:15 to go.
The skate stop on Milano “was probably his best save of the year," Giroux said.
“Our goaltender, in clutch times, was obviously the difference. He was the best player on the ice,” coach Alain Vigneault said after the Flyers (13-7-5) collected points for the 12th time in their last 14 games.
The Flyers’ power play looked futile in their first four chances, but finally capitalized on its fifth attempt of the night, taking a 3-2 lead on Giroux’s goal.
“They were doing a good job of pressuring us. and we really didn’t have an answer,” Giroux said. “We finally got our stuff together and started attacking a little quicker and were able to get one. It was huge.”
Taking a pass from Ivan Provorov, Giroux whipped a shot from the left circle -- his old power-play office before moving to the right side in a lot of games this season – to put the Flyers ahead with 3:25 left in the second period. James van Riemsdyk set a screen in front of goalie Joonas Korpisalo.
Earlier in the second period, Joel Farabee, from near the goal line next to the right wall, patiently waited for Scott Laughton to drive the net before firing a goal-mouth pass that the left winger knocked into the net. It was Laughton’s first goal of the season and ended a 24-game drought that started last March, knotting the score at 2-2 with 16:41 remaining in the second.
"It feels nice, coming back from an injury and everything that’s kind of happened this year,” said Laughton, who missed 13 games this season because of a broken finger. “... It was my third game back, so I’m starting to get my legs underneath me and feeling better. It was a great play by [Farabee] and I was able to put it in the back of the net.”
The Flyers’ power play was anemic during a first period in which they fell into a 2-1 hole. They had all three power plays in the period and managed a total of just two shots in those six minutes.
On their third power play, the Flyers failed to get off a shot and Columbus had four clears.
Columbus took a 1-0 lead as captain Nick Foligno, left uncovered in front, scored on a rebound with 15:09 left in the first. It was just his second goal of the season and first in 18 games. Foligno has 16 career goals against the Flyers, the most he has against any team.
The Blue Jackets (10-10-4) have scored first in their last nine games. But they had a hard time getting into a flow because of committing five penalties -- four more than the Flyers.
“This is on us; we were just a dumb hockey team tonight,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said.
The Flyers, shortly after their third straight futile power play of the night, knotted the score at 1-1 by getting a goal from fourth-line right winger Tyler Pitlick. Using a backhander, Pitlick chipped a nine-foot shot past Korpisalo with 1:22 left in the first.
Just 46 seconds later, a neutral-zone turnover by Kevin Hayes led to a Columbus goal as defenseman Seth Jones fired a right-circle shot past a screened Elliott with 36 seconds to go in the period. Jones converted a slick pass from Gustav Nyquist, who was behind the net.
“Laughts had a huge goal to get us back [even],” Elliott said. “I thought the energy of our team jumped up from there and we were able to play the rest of the game the right way. ... I thought we did a good job of not getting rattled [by] letting up a goal in the last minute of the period. It’s a big sign that we’re a veteran team that can handle some misplays and come back with resilience.”
Columbus, which lost stars Sergei Bobrovsky, Artemi Panarin and Matt Duchene to free agency in the offseason, had won four of its last five games entering the night.