Slumping Flyers blasted by Blue Jackets

The Flyers' Nicklas Grossman, right, of Sweden, and Columbus Blue Jackets' RJ Umberger fight for a loose puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. (Jay LaPrete/AP)
The Flyers' Nicklas Grossman, right, of Sweden, and Columbus Blue Jackets' RJ Umberger fight for a loose puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. (Jay LaPrete/AP)
Posted: January 25, 2014

COLUMBUS - Backup goalie Ray Emery tried to take the blame for the Flyers' latest loss.

"Any time we're giving up goals like we are, I look no further than myself," he said Thursday night after the Flyers dropped a 5-2 decision to streaking Columbus at Nationwide Arena.

Truth be told, Emery played admirably. The veteran goalie, starting because Steve Mason had played the previous night, faced a shooting gallery and received little defensive support.

Columbus, outworking the Flyers to loose pucks throughout the game, fired 39 shots and registered its eighth straight victory, a franchise record.

"Sloppy hockey," said forward Brayden Schenn, who scored the Flyers' first goal with a tenacious second and third effort. "I think it's a little bit of [a lack] of communication in the 'D' zone. We're not supporting the puck enough and maybe running around too much.

"We're hanging our goalies out to dry."

The Flyers - who failed to capitalize on a five-on-three power play when they trailed, 3-2 - have lost three straight and four of their last five. And the toughest part of their schedule is coming up.

Columbus overtook the Flyers and moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division.

"We're giving up 40 shots on net; it's crazy," winger Jake Voracek said.

The Flyers have allowed 43, 36, and 39 shots in their last three games. The team that had a defense-first mentality when it was playing winning hockey has made it too easy for teams to enter the Flyers' zone with speed.

"We have to tighten it up; we have a tough schedule coming up," Voracek said. He later added: "It seems like we're throwing the puck away too much in our zone and the neutral zone, and they're just coming at us and coming at us."

Brandon Dubinsky and Nathan Horton scored goals in the first 6 minutes, 54 seconds of the final period to give Columbus a 5-2 lead. Horton undressed defenseman Andrej Meszaros with a clever move and beat Emery to the far side as Scott Hartnell's boarding penalty expired.

Columbus, playing the 1,000th game in franchise history, kept the puck in the Flyers' end for almost the entire two minutes of a power play late in the second period. Finally, with three seconds left in Braydon Coburn's holding penalty, James Wisniewski's shot deflected off the skate of Matt Calvert and past Emery, putting the Jackets ahead, 3-2, with 3:47 remaining in the second.

Emery made a handful of sensational saves earlier in the power play.

Former Flyer Sergei Bobrovsky (26 saves), in his first appearance against his ex-teammates, notched his ninth consecutive win.

The puck seemed to be in the Flyers' defensive end most of the night.

"I don't think it's a work-ethic thing. I think it's execution for the most part," coach Craig Berube said.

Columbus had tied it at 2 when Derek MacKenzie, getting position on Luke Schenn and Chris VandeVelde out front, converted Artem Anisimov's behind-the-net pass.

In an effort to get Vinny Lecavalier going, Berube made some line changes. Lecavalier entered the night with one goal in his last 18 games.

Lecavalier, who has been playing left wing on the third line since returning from a back injury last month, was moved back to his natural position - center - on the second line. That moved left winger Hartnell from the second to the third line, and shifted Brayden Schenn from center to left wing on the second unit.

Lecavalier's first power-play goal since late November gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead with 12:39 left in the second period.

It was the Flyers' last hurrah.

The Flyers allowed the game's first goal for the ninth time in 12 games, and they gave the Blue Jackets 5:58 of power-play time in the first period.

Columbus took a 1-0 lead when Jack Johnson's dump-in from just beyond the right circle bounced off the leg of Luke Schenn in front of the net and past Emery. The Flyers have been outscored, 8-3, in the first period of their last eight games.


scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

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