COLUMBUS - Peter Laviolette dubbed it mindless hockey.

Ville Leino called it emotionless.

Chris Pronger said it was more disappointing than frustrating.

- save for a solid effort from goalie Brian Boucher.

Make no mistake, the tight score was misleading. The Flyers were outplayed by the Blue Jackets from the drop of the puck.

"We got exactly what we deserved," Laviolette said. "It's completely frustrating. You don't show up and compete, you don't execute, you don't play the game with energy and emotion, you're going to lose. All the time. That's what happened."

It was the Flyers' third straight loss against a backup goaltender. They have posted just four goals in consecutive losses against the Blue Jackets' Mathieu Garon, Anaheim's Curtis McElhinney and Pittsburgh's Brent Johnson.

With little sustained pressure in the offensive zone - and just 17 shots through the first 40 minutes - the Flyers didn't even make it tough on Garon until the third period, when Leino cut Columbus' 2-0 lead in half with 5 minutes to go.

Even then, the Flyers shot themselves in the foot with a penalty 6 seconds after scoring. Darroll Powe was whistled for interference off the ensuing faceoff.

"After 40 minutes, we got going but it's just way too late to win a hockey game, it doesn't matter what team it is against," Leino said. "There was no emotional energy. We just couldn't get going. Nobody could get going.

"They got the first goal and we got even slower after that."

Columbus peppered Boucher with point-blank opportunities, many coming off odd-man rushes. Boucher stopped 23 of 25 shots in his second straight start. He was 4-0-3 in his career against the Blue Jackets before last night.

Exactly 15 of Columbus' 25 shots came from within and below the Flyers' faceoff dots. Kevin Wilson scored his first NHL goal from just outside the goal crease. Derick Brassard was positioned less than a foot off the blue paint for a power-play slam dunk in the second period.

"We shouldn't be putting ourselves in that position," Pronger said. "We should be coming ready to play from the drop of the puck. We didn't. 'Boosh' played very well to keep the score as tight as it was. It could have easily been 3, 4 or 5-nothing. He kept us in it.

"When you don't answer the bell, it's disappointing."

Laviolette said he was disappointed with how his team responded to Boucher bailing them out in the early going.

"He let us hang around," Laviolette said. "There's not a lot you can do on the ones they scored. We didn't respond, but he let us hang around.

"The first 40 minutes, there was nothing there. We played mindless hockey, without any energy, without any passion."

Despite defensive breakdowns in front of him, it wasn't tough for Boucher to put the game - and the season - in perspective.

"That's the way it goes sometimes," he said. "There's going to be nights when you play well and don't win and nights when you don't play well and win. There's no rhyme or reason. You can't get discouraged over stuff like that. We support each other."

Still, just 2 nights after responding with their best offensive outburst of the season - a five-goal effort against Toronto with 68 shots attempted at the net - the Flyers went through 10-minute bursts of periods with one or two shots. If you didn't know, you would have thought they were two different teams.

"When we had a good shift, we couldn't follow it up," Danny Briere said. "It seemed like our energy level was low. We jumped on the ice and there was no goal. We were kind of going through the motions there until the last 10 minutes."

The result: the Flyers' second loss in regulation against Columbus in 10 meetings. And a serious tongue-lashing from Laviolette, whose Flyers are under .500 for just the second time since Dec. 26, 2009.

"I wish we could replay this game," Briere said.

Now, the only chance the Flyers have to replay that game will be in their heads. And in a lot of film today.

Slap shots

The Flyers returned late last night with the Buffalo Sabres already in Philly for tonight's matchup . . . Andreas Nodl was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game in favor of Dan Carcillo . . . Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell and Darroll Powe accounted for all seven of the Flyers' penalties.

For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at

http://go.philly.com/frequentflyers. Follow him on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.