COLUMBUS, Ohio – Turnovers and sloppy defensive coverage plagued the Flyers. Again.
They allowed three goals in a game-turning seven-minute span in the second period Thursday and fell to Columbus, 6-3, at cannon-shooting Nationwide Arena.
The Flyers, now 3-4, have allowed 31 goals — the second-highest total in the NHL.
"It's pretty embarrassing," said center Sean Couturier, who gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead with 50 seconds left in the first period."I think, offensively, we're trying too much. We're making high-risk plays. We're creating chances, but when we're not, we're giving up odd-man rushes and getting caught defensively."
There was plenty of blame to be spread around — to the defense, to the forwards for a lack of backchecking, and to goalie Cal Pickard, who allowed six goals on 28 shots.
"I mean, you're going to have to make saves at some point," said Pickard after the second start of his Flyers career. "I didn't like my game from start to finish. I actually thought we played pretty good. Obviously, there's going to be some breakdowns throughout, but it was unacceptable the way I played."
"We know we can play better defensively," said Claude Giroux, who had two assists but committed a turnover that led to a Columbus goal. "It's not about the defense and the goalie; it's about all five guys on the ice."
The Flyers outshot the Blue Jackets, 35-28, but Sergei Bobrovsky — despite allowing a gift goal to Couturier — was much better than Pickard. Bobrovsky is now 11-3-1 against his ex-team.
Giroux said the loss wasn't because of Pickard's goaltending.
"It's a team loss here," he said. "It's not on one guy."
"The number of chances we've given up in the last three games aren't all that many," coach Dave Hakstol said. "It's the home-run chances that we're giving up [that hurt] — like the first goal in the second period and the second goal in the second period. Those chances are things we have to get out of our game."
Cam Atkinson scored two goals 3 minutes and 8 seconds apart early in the second period, erasing a 2-1 Flyers lead and sparking the win.
Oskar Lindblom (six shots) scored on a wraparound with 18:53 left in the third to get the Flyers within 4-3. Eighty seconds later, the Flyers got a power play but failed to get off a shot.
Josh Anderson secured the win with 4:48 remaining, scoring on a backhander after defenseman Christian Folin fell down and lost control of the puck. With 2:12 left, Sonny Milano scored from the side of the net after a Jake Voracek turnover, giving the Blue Jackets a 6-3 lead.
Earlier, Atkinson took a slick feed from Artemi Panarin and tapped in his third goal of the season, knotting the score at 2 with 18:26 left in the second. The fastbreak followed a giveaway by Giroux down the other end.
A little over three minutes later, Atkinson sped around defenseman Robert Hagg, made a deft move in front and beat Pickard to give the Blue Jackets a 3-2 advantage.
They made it 4-2 when Nick Foligno scored from the high slot with 11:26 to go in the second.
After setting a dubious franchise record by allowing opponents to score first in the season's first six games, Travis Konecny (two points) opened the scoring.
The Flyers (3-4) dominated the first half of the opening period, getting nine of the first 12 shots, hitting iron twice, and taking the lead when Konecny tipped in Hagg's wrist shot from just above the left circle, near the boards, with 9:54 to go in the stanza. It was Konency's first goal of the season.
Konecny said it was a relief to "get the first one out of the way, but it was definitely more important to get two points."
Columbus took advantage of a Michael Raffl turnover and tied it at 1 on a jaw-dropping effort by Anthony Duclair.
Duclair fell down, regained control of the puck on his knees, and put a slot shot through the legs of Pickard.
After Couturier put the Flyers ahead, 2-1, with 50 seconds remaining in the first, the Blue Jackets took control.
Columbus (4-2) was again without injured Seth Jones (knee), who is arguably the team's best defenseman. But the Jackets' second-period outburst negated their defensive-challenged opening period.
After the first 20 minutes, it was the Flyers who became defensively challenged.