Pivotal Metro matchup in Philadelphia

Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center.

Jerome Miron

Blue Jackets Live pregame at 6:30 p.m., puck drops at 7 p.m., network: FOX Sports Ohio

There’s a good chance that Sergei Bobrovsky will finally make his first start as a visitor at Philadelphia.

He wasn’t around the last time his Columbus Blue Jackets visited in an epic collapse.

The Flyers could turn to former Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason in Thursday night’s Metropolitan Division matchup that has major playoff implications.

Bobrovsky missed two games with the flu before he returned Tuesday and couldn’t hold a two-goal lead in the third period in a 3-2 overtime loss to Colorado.

The reigning Vezina Trophy winner made 77 starts for the Flyers in his first two NHL seasons before being dealt to Columbus for three draft picks June 22, 2012.

He was out with a groin injury for the Blue Jackets’ 5-4 loss at Philadelphia (39-27-9) on Dec. 19 in their last trip to the Wells Fargo Center. Columbus is winless there with five defeats and one tie.

"There are some tough buildings to play in and Philadelphia is one of them," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said.

No defeat in Philadelphia was more painful than the last one. Columbus (38-30-7) took a 3-0 lead into the third period before getting outshot 16-7 over the disastrous final 20 minutes, giving up Claude Giroux’s game-winner with 1:38 to play.

"To me, we’re a different team now," Richards said. "When we played them earlier in the year, there are lots of reasons why we lost that game the way we did.

"We had a 3-0 lead but you go back and look at the tape, it wasn’t a 3-0 lead for us. We were doing a lot of bad things and we were getting away with those things in that game and they eventually caught us."

That contest marked Mason’s lone outing against the team with which he spent his first four-plus seasons. He stopped 25 shots.

Mason is 8-2-1 with a 1.96 goals-against average in his last 11 home starts. He figures to be back in goal after backup Ray Emery made 28 saves in Tuesday’s 1-0 shootout loss at St. Louis.

"He definitely won us a point tonight," forward Scott Hartnell said. "In two weeks when the season’s over, we’ll see how big that point is."

The Flyers are three points behind the New York Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan with two games in hand. They have a four-point edge over the Blue Jackets, who hold the Eastern Conference’s final wild-card spot.

Coach Craig Berube gave his team Wednesday off. He conceded that this contest has extra importance as a division matchup.

"They’re all big," he said. "A little bit (more) because it’s division and they’re right there so it’s a battle, it’s a huge game."

Giroux had four points the last time Columbus was in town, but he has been limited to one in the last two meetings with the Blue Jackets winning both at home. Bobrovsky made 26 saves the last time these teams met in a 5-2 victory Jan. 23.

Columbus winger R.J. Umberger, who has 18 goals and 33 points, is expected to play after being scratched the last two games. Teammate Nathan Horton is out with a lower-body injury.

Former Blue Jackets first-round pick Jakub Voracek has six points in two career home games for the Flyers against his first NHL team.