Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Flyers begin key home stretch on sour note

Philadelphia, PA -- Curtis McElhinney made 42 saves, while Matt Calvert scored twice and Brandon Dubinsky once in the third period, as Columbus claimed a 5-2 victory over Philadelphia on Tuesday.

James Wisniewski and Ryan Johansen added tallies with Scott Hartnell picking up a pair of assists for the Blue Jackets, winners in four of their last six. Todd Richards' club, which only trails their opponents by five points, won four of five in the season series including two of three here and two beyond regulation.

Wayne Simmonds and Michael Del Zotto posted offense for the Flyers, whose streak of nine straight games with at least one point (6-0-3) came to an end. Their last regulation defeat was a 7-4 debacle at Nassau Coliseum on Jan. 19.

The Orange and Black continue this four-game home stand on Thursday against another listless opponent who gave them a decent game, the Buffalo Sabres, and then go back-to-back against Nashville and Washington on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. It's the start of a stretch where seven of nine games take place on home ice before the reverse occurs on the road.

Ray Emery yielded four goals on 24 shots in defeat, but was largely hung out to dry with poor defensive coverage and giveaways.

The Blue Jackets moved on top just before the midway point of the third, as Calvert tapped in the puck from the left side off a passing play between Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson. Vinny Lecavalier drew the boos on that one, as his blatant giveaway in the defensive zone helped set up the go-ahead marker.

Emery then dropped a Scott Hartnell shot and Dubinsky was right there to clean up the rebound with 6:28 to play and the visitors led 4-2.

The hosts pulled Emery with more than 2 1/2 minutes left in regulation and Calvert sealed the outcome and provided the final score when he beat Jakub Voracek to a puck on the right wing and hit the vacant cage in the final minute.

Wisniewski's bullet from the right circle beat Mason at 4:51 and only eight seconds into Columbus' initial power-play chance of the contest, created when Brayden Schenn was sent off for interference. Prior to the goal, the Flyers hadn't trailed in a game for 466 minutes, 40 seconds of game time dating back to Jan. 27 against Arizona.

It was 2-0 at 6:39 when a shot by David Savard glanced off Emery and then the shoulder of Johansen at the left side before crossing the goal line. A brief review confirmed no malfeasance and a legal carom.

McElhinney later came up with the game's decisive stop against an indecisive Flyer.

He was down in the middle of his crease when Voracek was alone at the right side staring at an open net during a Philadelphia power play with under 3 1/2 minutes left in the second. McElhinney was saved since the Flyers' leading scorer settled the puck with his stick first instead of shooting, and was able to smother the chance at the near post.

Shortly after the advantage expired, Simmonds put the hosts on the board when he deftly tipped a Del Zotto shot out of the air in the slot with 2:35 left before intermission.

Del Zotto then ripped a shot through traffic from the left-wing boards for a 2-2 game inside a minute to play in the second.

Notes:  Dubinsky has scored in three consecutive contests ... Prior to the game, the Blue Jackets announced that forward Nick Foligno will miss the game with a lower-body injury, and Monday call-up Marko Dano will take his place in the lineup ... In addition, Columbus activated forward Brian Gibbons from injured reserve and assigned him  to Springfield of the AHL ... Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo, eligible to play following his eight- game suspension, was a healthy scratch ... Philadelphia recorded 20 shots in the second period, their most since a 20-shot first period in a 3-2 OT win against Los Angeles on Oct. 28.

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