Flyers fall to Columbus as winless streak hits 7

Adam Ginning

      If the Flyers can’t beat a team as bad as the Columbus Blue Jackets in what amounts to a win-or-else game, what does that tell you about their playoff chances?

      That’s what a lot of Philadelphia hockey fans were saying to themselves after watching their team turn in another uninspired performance during a 6-2 loss at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday night.

      The Flyers, who saw their current winless streak reach seven games (0-5-2), began play having fallen out of the playoff picture for the first time in months and did nothing to help their cause.

      All six Columbus goals were scored by defensemen. It’s only the second time in NHL history that’s happened.

      Blue Jackets backliners Damon Severon and Zach Werenski led the Blue Jackets’ attack each with a pair of goals and goaltender Jet Greaves stopped the Flyers, who have just four games left on their schedule.

      Surprisingly, the Pittsburgh Penguins continued their recent winning ways by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday and moved into the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders also won and strengthened their hold on third place in the division.

      Coach John Tortorella, who decided not to speak after the Flyers’ last game in Columbus, calmly analyzed what happened in this encounter.

      “At times, it seemed we were a step behind,” the coach said, mindful that his team had played the night before in Buffalo. “I’m not sure if that’s the back-to-back situation.

      “We had some chances. I think to get aggressive and have energy you need something good to happen offensively. You can make good defensive plays, block shots, but it doesn’t give you the same kind of energy. We had some good looks. No one’s going to help us.”

      Columbus put a pair of pucks past Flyers goaltender Sam Ersson as the Flyers looked out of sorts in the first period.

      Erik Gudbranson opened the scoring at 12:08 when his long shot found its way through several players and then split Ersson’s pads.

      Then Severson went to work, finding the mark with 1:06 to play in the period. He had assists from South Jersey native Johnny Gaudreau and Werenski.

      Columbus then made it 3-0 at 8:23 of the second period. Severson connected again from the lower left circle.

      The Flyers’ Olle Lycksell picked up his first NHL goal at 14:32 to give his team a little hope. His close-range shot got past Greaves.

      However, the Blue Jackets wasted little time retaliating. Nick Blankenburg’s long shot flew past two players screening Ersson and found the back of the net at 15:20.

      In the third period, the Blue Jackets made it 5-1 on a power-play goal by Werenski at 9:29. Then he scored again at 11:26.

      Scott Laughton appeared particularly downcast after this effort. Already trailing Pittsburgh, the Flyers know that both Washington and Detroit have two games in hand in the wild card race.

      Lack of offense is a big part of the problem. The Flyers were outscored 10-4 in the past two games. They were also outscored by a combined 9-2 margin in recent losses to last-place teams Chicago and Montreal.

      “Couple posts in the first period, not good enough, came out flat,” Laughton said. “It falls on some of our older guys. Especially me. Got to get this group ready to go. We need urgency from the start of the game, believing in the guy next to you.”

      Anything the Flyers can go back to from times when they were taking it to opponents and getting results?

      “Playing aggressive, I think,” Laughton said. “Not giving guys time with the puck. Making it hard on guys, blocking shots. Doing the little things that at this time of year need to be done.”

      Another workhorse player, Garnet Hathaway, had similar comments.

      “We had been putting pressure on teams,” he said. “The last two games, I don’t think we’re getting that scoring touch. That’s up and down (the lineup) right now. The way to get out of this is to just keep going.”

      But even if they do, is it too late to save the season?

      >Short shots

      The Flyers adjusted their back pair on defense, starting Ronnie Attard to go with Adam Ginning while Marc Staal and Erik Johnson took a seat, as did Egor Zamula. . .The Flyers return for the third game of this road trip on Tuesday when they visit Montreal. . . .Ginning scored his first NHL goal with 4:52 to play in the game. . .Flyers are 0-6-4 in their last 10 games against the Metropolitan Division.

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About Wayne Fish 2437 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.