Flyers 5, Blue Jackets 4: Third-period collapse

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Yong Kim | Philadelphia Daily News
The Flyers’ Brayden Schenn tries to keep the puck away from the Blue Jackets’ Blake Comeau, left, and Artem Anisimov during the first period.

PHILADELPHIA — The last time the Blue Jackets played at Wells Fargo Center, on Nov. 5, 2011, they allowed five first-period goals and lost 9-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers, looking like minor-leaguers masquerading as an NHL team.

Last night was slightly different — and, yet, just as bad.

The Blue Jackets saved their gag reflex for the third period, allowing five goals and losing 5-4 in front of an announced crowd of 19,852.

“We blew it,” defenseman Jack Johnson said.

“It’s disheartening,” left wing Nick Foligno said.

“It’s embarrassing,” left wing Matt Calvert said.

Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards agreed.

“We should be angry and upset after this,” he said. “At least I hope our players are.”

The Blue Jackets had been 36-0-1 under Richards when leading after two periods. But a 3-0 lead was not enough. Neither was a 4-2 lead with 11:15 remaining.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux scored the tying and winning goals 2:08 apart late in the third. The first came at 16:14, when he dunked a puck into the net behind Blue Jackets goaltender Curtis McElhinney after it had been redirected off a defenseman’s leg.

The second — the 100th goal of Giroux’s career — was a highlight-reel goal for years to come. With 1:38 remaining, Giroux had Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard draped on his back facing away from the net, when he suddenly turned to his right and lifted the puck toward McElhinney off his backhand.

The puck crossed up McElhinney and nestled under the crossbar.

“We just gave them momentum and gave them bounces,” Foligno said. “Really, we weren’t able to contain them through the neutral zone, and they generated so much off that. It’s frustrating, for sure.”

Cam Atkinson, Jack Skille and Foligno scored to give the Blue Jackets a 3-0 lead after two periods.

To be clear: The Blue Jackets weren’t exactly playing their style of game, even with a three-goal lead. The game was sloppy, but through two periods, the Flyers were the bigger mess.

Former Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason, who has played so well for Philadelphia this season, looked shaky in his first game against his former club, allowing Atkinson and Skille to beat him clean with slap shots off 2-on-1 rushes, and Foligno and Blake Comeau to score from close range off passes from below the goal line behind his net.

He finished with 25 saves, 16 in the second period.

“I didn’t do a whole lot tonight to earn the win,” Mason said. “But that’s where my teammates came in tonight. They made sure it was a special evening for myself.

“I tried not to think too much about who I was playing. For the most part, my emotions were pretty mellow considering the circumstances. In the third period, these guys really came through and showed the offensive force that this team has.”

McElhinney stopped the first 26 shots he faced, then allowed five goals on the final 13 — one off a deflection, one off a bad hop.

The problem was the play in front of McElhinney.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” Richards said. “They pushed, the crowd got into it and I think a little bit of panic set in. We began to retreat. Our defensemen were under siege. The execution and decision-making, it obviously wasn’t good enough.”

aportzline@dispatch.com

@Aportzline

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