Flyers fall in shootout to Blue Jackets, Sergei Bobrovsky
Former Flyer Sergei Bobrovksy made 30 saves and stopped all three in the shootout to key the win.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Coach Dave Hakstol, unhappy with his team's play the previous night, changed all four lines and two of his three defensive pairings Saturday, trying to help the Flyers end a 12-year losing streak in Columbus.
It didn't work, but the Flyers salvaged a hard-earned point.
Pierre-Luc Dubois scored the only goal in the shootout — a perfectly placed shot high into the left corner — as the Blue Jackets defeated the Flyers, 2-1, at reverberating Nationwide Arena. It was Columbus' 11th straight home win over the Flyers since 2005.
Despite the loss, the Flyers (15-13-8) go into their holiday break feeling fairly good about themselves thanks to an 7-2-1 run that followed a 10-game losing streak. They are four points out of a wild-card spot.
"We can build off of it," winger Jake Voracek said of the last 10 games.
"We pushed a lot harder tonight; we wanted to show that wasn't our best effort," said winger Travis Konecny, referring to Friday's listless 4-2 loss in Buffalo.
Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves and stopped all three shootout shots to key the win. He is now 9-2 against his former team.
After playing two strong periods, the Flyers looked fatigued and they sagged in the third. Playing on back-to-back nights and having their flight delayed 2 1/2 hours in Buffalo late Friday didn't help.
But they gained some momentum by killing a high-sticking penalty on Nolan Patrick late in the game, getting four clears and allowing no shots.
Sean Couturier (11 shot attempts) nearly won it with 18 seconds left, making a deft move to get inside two defenders before whipping a shot off the inside of the left post.
"I was proud of the way the guys played," said goalie Brian Elliott, who made his 11th straight start and again was outstanding as he made 35 saves. "There were some big blocked shots, some big plays. Coots could have won it, but it took a tough bounce. We go into the Christmas break and have to get rested because we have another busy stretch coming up."
Columbus (22-13-2) had a 15-6 shots domination in the third period.
Defenseman Ivan Provorov, who had a puck bounce off his butt for Columbus' first goal, tied the game at 1-1 on a point drive with 16:04 left in the second. It was his fifth goal and his first in 14 games.
The Flyers peppered Bobrovsky for the rest of the second period, but their ex-teammate made numerous quality saves to keep the game tied at 1-all. He stopped Claude Giroux on a breakaway, denied Wayne Simmonds after he took a slick pass from Voracek at the doorstep on a power play, and turned aside Scott Laughton after he made a power move to get inside a defender.
Voracek set up a score with 1:39 left in the second, but the goal was disallowed after a review showed Taylor Leier knocked in the puck with a high stick after it deflected off Columbus' Jordan Schroeder.
Earlier, Columbus had taken a 1-0 lead 31 seconds after a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty on the Flyers. Seth Jones scored when his long-range wrist shot deflected off Provorov and past a startled Elliott with 2:52 left in the first.
Coming off Friday's loss in Buffalo, home of the Eastern Conference's worst team, Hakstol shook up his lineup, saying he wanted a "fresh look and fresh perspective. I thought we had a real good effort up and down the lineup tonight."
Jordan Weal (three goals in 30 games) was benched. Konecny, who had a strong game, joined Giroux and Couturier on the top line. Simmonds dropped from the first line to the third line, alongside Val Filppula and Dale Weise. Patrick moved between Voracek and Michael Raffl. Leier replaced Weal on the fourth line.
Hakstol broke up the top pairing, dropping Andrew MacDonald to the second pairing, and putting Provorov with Shayne Gostisbehere. MacDonald was paired with Robert Hagg.
The Flyers haven't won in Columbus since Dec. 13, 2005, when Peter Forsberg, rookie Jeff Carter, and Sami Kapanen scored in a 3-1 victory. Robert Esche made 23 saves, and Ben Eager and Matt Ellison had assists.
Yeah, it has been a while.
Columbus was without some key injured players, including high-scoring defenseman Zach Werenski and centers Brandon Dubinsky and Alexander Wennberg.
Giroux played in his 692nd game with the Flyers, moving past Simon Gagne and into 10th place on the franchise's all-time list….Left winger Oskar Lindblom, who is on the Flyers' radar, had a career-high three points Saturday in the Phantoms' 3-2 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He has five goals in the last nine games.…Hakstol coached in his 200th NHL game Saturday….The Flyers don't play again until Thursday in Florida.