Blue Jackets rally past Flyers, but lose Gaborik in first game back
The Columbus Blue Jackets learned something from a humiliating defeat two nights earlier.
Ryan Johansen and R.J. Umberger each scored two goals and the Blue Jackets pulled away in the third period to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3 on Saturday night.
The game came 48 hours after the Blue Jackets led 3-0 after two periods and 4-2 with 5 minutes left in Philadelphia, with the Flyers scoring five times in the final period in a 5-4 win.
”(Tonight) we kept going after them,” Umberger said. ”We didn’t sit back. We were on our heels in Philadelphia and they got some momentum. But tonight we just kept rolling.”
David Savard had a goal and an assist and Boone Jenner also scored, while Nikita Nikitin and Corey Tropp each had two assists for the Blue Jackets, who said they were embarrassed by the Thursday collapse.
”We didn’t play our game (in Philadelphia),” Johansen said. ”From the first couple of shifts tonight, we were on. We stuck with it through some adversity – a couple of injuries, a couple of penalties.”
Tempering the victory was the loss of Blue Jackets forward Marian Gaborik, who broke a collarbone in the first period and is out indefinitely.
This time the Blue Jackets watched a 2-0 lead vanish in 20 seconds late in the second period, but then took control at the outset of the third.
Savard took a pass from Nikitin at the 3:36 mark, adjusted to avoid a defender and then slid a rising shot from the right point that beat Ray Emery high on the stick side.
Just over 2 minutes later, Savard returned the favor by passing to Nikitin at the left point. His shot, with the Flyers slow to flow back into position, was redirected by Jenner in the slot to push the lead to two.
”Obviously, we’ve got to be better defensively,” said Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who had two of his club’s late goals at Wells Fargo Arena.
Johansen, who had opened the scoring, then flicked a wrister past Emery on a 2-on-1 break to make it 5-2 with 7:38 left. Umberger then added an empty-netter.
”It was a gutsy win, for a lot of reasons,” said coach Todd Richards. ”You go back to Thursday night and how we lost that game. Tonight we gave up two quick goals as the second period ended, were missing two key elements of our team (forward Matt Calvert also had his arm in a sling after the game) so we were playing short-handed, and we gave up five power plays. And we still came out and won.”
Curtis McElhinney, victimized for all the goals on Thursday night, made the lead stand up with 33 saves.
”That was a tough game there on Thursday, to give up five goals in the third period,” he said. ”This is certainly a nice, big win for us. It’s important that everybody relishes this tonight.”
The Blue Jackets, much like the earlier meeting, got off to a good start only to lose it.
At the 10:43 mark of the first period, Gaborik, just back after missing 17 games with a sprained left knee, got off a shot that was pushed aside by Emery. Nick Foligno collected the puck along the back wall and skated to the other side of the cage where he fed Johansen, who lifted a shot from the right doorstep for his 13th of the year.
Gaborik, sandwiched between Braydon Coburn and Zac Rinaldo on his shot, got up slowly and immediately skated off the ice to the dressing room. The club announced between periods that the 31-year-old Slovakian, with 341 goals and 345 assists in 686 games, had a broken collarbone and would be out indefinitely.
”Obviously, it’s a big hole for our team,” coach Todd Richards said. ”You really feel for him. He worked hard to get back and was excited to play.”
Gaborik was expected to be an integral part of Slovakia’s Olympic team.
”It’s real disappointing for our team, and you feel for Marian,” Richards said.
Johansen said the club got a surge just knowing that Gaborik was coming back on Saturday night.
”It brought some energy before the game when you have a star coming back,” Johansen said. ”Then to see him go down like that, I feel bad. It’s really unfortunate.”
After James Wisniewski’s hard slap shot from the right point was redirected by Umberger into the net made it 2-0, the Flyers responded.
On a 3-on-2, Wayne Simmonds, who had two goals for Philadelphia, pulled up and wristed a shot from the high slot that beat McElhinney.
Before that could be announced, Matt Read’s pass from the short boards skipped past three Blue Jackets to Sean Couturier, who buried it for his seventh goal — quieting a crowd of 14,090.
But unlike what happened two nights before, the Blue Jackets dominated the third.
”I don’t think we were flat,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said. ”We made mistakes on their goals that will be easy to correct. They didn’t have to happen.”
Simmonds felt the Flyers could have done more.
”I don’t think we competed as hard as we did the other night,” he said. ”That’s what happens. They were definitely determined to win tonight. The looked like they wanted it more than us.”
Notes: Philadelphia also announced just before the game that D Nicklas Grossman (flu) would be out and that RW Steve Downie would miss 7-10 days (upper body). … The Flyers Erik Gustafsson went off with a left knee injury after a third-period collision with Columbus’ Corey Tropp. … Referee Dan O’Rourke, kicked in the chest by a skate in the first period, left the ice after Johansen’s first goal and did not return.