PHILADELPHIA – If Travis Sanheim was going to pick an opportune time to score his first goal of the season, Thursday night’s game was it.
Uh, make that two goals.
With the Flyers trailing the Columbus Blue Jackets by a 3-1 score late in the third period, Sanheim scored back-to-back goals at 12:24 and 14:29 to pull the Flyers even.
Not bad for a second-year defenseman.
Sanheim entered the game with two goals for his entire career and doubled that in just over two minutes.
But Seth Jones scored the second of two goals just 10 seconds into overtime to hand the Flyers a 4-3 overtime loss.
Judging by their post-game comments, the Flyers felt somewhat satisfied that they managed to salvage a point and keep their home record at 5-7-2, still worst in the East.
The finish was somewhat disappointing but at least they managed to run their successful penalty kill streak to 15 (including five in this game), got a surprising offensive effort from Sanheim and decent goaltending from Anthony Stolarz.
The problem was taking all those penalties in the first place, including two by Radko Gudas and two by Scott Laughton.
“In the second period, we had to kill too many penalties, at one point three in a row,’’ coach Dave Hakstol said after the game. “That does a lot of things on the negative side to your team.
“Those are things we addressed after the game.’’
Hakstol admitted the lightning-quick ending put a damper on the Flyers’ late rally.
“It’s disappointing the way it ended,’’ he said. “I won’t lie to you. That’s a hard way to lose the extra point. We felt good about battling back the way we did in the third period, got it going. It hurts a little bit to have it end the way it did.’’
Sanheim has been joining the rush more of late and in this game it paid off.
“It’s one of the things he does really well,’’ Hakstol said. “He comes from the back end, he finds a hole up the middle in support of a play and tonight was moving, skating and feeling confident.’’
Did Sanheim get a little bolder in the third period because the Flyers were down by two?
Said Sanheim: “I think I read the play where we had clean possession going into the zone on both plays and I’d like to think that at any point in the game I’m going to make that play. I thought they were smart plays and not that high risk.
Getting a goal from Claude Giroux at 5:58 of the first period got things off on the right foot but the good feeling didn’t last long.
Columbus came right back with a goal from Jones at 7:06 when Stolarz received no help from his defense on the rebound of Oliver Bjorkstrand’s short-range shot.
It’s a goal Stolarz probably would like to have back but he made up for it with some strong saves while the Flyers were killing off those three penalties in the second period.
“That first goal, that’s not the way you want to start a game,’’ Stolarz said. “For me, you just have to keep battling and trying to find a rhythm.’’
Both Stolarz and Giroux said the extensive killing really worked against the Flyers in this one.
“Guys are going to be sitting there on the bench,’’ Stolarz said. “Certain guys kill, some don’t. But the kill did a great job tonight. Obviously we don’t want to take that many penalties, it throws off the rhythm of the team.’’
Added Giroux: “When you take a lot of penalties like that, it kills the momentum. It’s tough when you’re sitting on the bench, if your legs aren’t going. . .if you move your legs, you will be in better position and you won’t have to take those penalties.’’
The Blue Jackets took their first lead at 18:08 when Brandon Dubinsky tipped in Scott Harrington’s point shot. Again, it appeared Dubinsky did not have much attention from the Flyers’ defense.
Boone Jenner scored for Columbus at 5:15 of the third to give Columbus a 3-1 lead before Sanheim began his heroics.
Jones showed why he’s an offensive threat as well as a standout on defense.
“His game has grown, developed and matured,’’ Hakstol said. “He’s done everything and more that people would have expected him to do.’’
Jordan Weal was a healthy scratch and Jori Lehtera played after sitting out five of the last seven games. . .The Flyers thought they had a tying goal by Sean Couturier at 18:48 of the first period but it was disallowed when Columbus coach John Tortorella challenged and won when replays showed Travis Konecny was offside.
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