Thursday, January 23, 2014

Blue Jackets fire away, stop Flyers cold for eighth straight win

Columbus, OH --  Brandon Dubinsky and Nathan Horton scored early in the third period, as the Columbus Blue Jackets posted a victory in the franchise's 1,000th game, 5-2 over the Philadelphia Flyers at Nationwide Arena.

"This is a credit to our players. We've talked as a group about playing better at home and creating an identity," said Columbus head coach Todd Richards.

Jack Johnson, Derek MacKenzie and Matt Calvert also lit the lamp for the Blue Jackets, who also extended their franchise-high win streak to eight games.

Sergei Bobrovsky faced his former club for the first time and picked up the win thanks to 26 saves as Columbus pulled even with their Thursday foes in the Metropolitan Division. Both team have 56 points, with the Jackets holding one more win (26) and two games in hand for the third-place tiebreaker.

Brayden Schenn and Vincent Lecavalier tallied for the Flyers, losers of three in a row and six of their last eight. Ray Emery was left in for all five scores on 39 shots in defeat. The Orange and Black have given up 33 goals during their recent slide, and have allowed an average of 36 shots per game over the last five.

"We need to do a better job defensively and follow the system,” said team captain Claude Giroux. “Everyone needs to play better. The last two games I don’t think [we competed hard enough]. We have to work better as a team. We’ve worked better individually but not together. We’re not supporting each other. But that’s going to change and we’re going to start winning again.”

Trailing by a goal, the Flyers held a 5-on-3 edge for 45 seconds at the end of the second and start of the third thanks to minors to Horton and Fedor Tyutin 75 seconds apart, but failed to capitalize and Columbus took advantage.

Dubinsky provided insurance for the hosts with a shot from between the circles at 3:29 for a 4-2 Blue Jackets advantage.

It was 5-2 for the hosts when Horton ended his rush up the right wing by beating Emery with a high, hard shot to the far side with just under seven minutes gone.

Philadelphia's offense mustered only four shots in the third period and Bobrovsky was equal to all and made his club's winning margin stand up. Safe to say this is not the way the struggling club wanted to go heading into a Saturday matinee contest against the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins back home.

"When everyone's rolling it makes a lot of things easier for us. We have a lot of guys playing really well," Johnson said of his club's 9-1-0 record since Horton made his debut.

Columbus benefitted from an odd bounce to score first, as Johnson's shot from the left-wing boards deflected off the leg of Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn in front and fluttered past Emery with 8:20 gone in the first period.

Schenn evened the game at 1:56 of the second, sliding home a third-chance rebound of his own shot during a 3-on-1 break. Lecavalier's blast from the right circle on a power play gave Philly a 2-1 edge at 7:21.

Columbus knotted the score with 8:36 left, as MacKenzie tipped in an Artem Anisimov dish in front. The Jackets moved ahead by a goal on the advantage at 16:13 when a pass from the left circle by James Wisniewski changed direction off the skate of Calvert and hit the net.

Notes: Columbus improved to 4-2-2 all-time at home against Philadelphia, including four straight wins since December of 2008 ... The Flyers hadn't dropped three in a row since Dec. 7-11 ... Bobrovsky has won nine straight decisions ... Emery hasn't won a game in which he started and finished since Jan. 7 at New Jersey ... Horton upped his total to seven points (4G, 3A) since returning from shoulder surgery ... Schenn's goal was his 14th, setting a new career high.
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