FFR2 Gm 25: PHI 3, CBJ 2 - Ellhio
Join the #Pitlick Party, folks! I promise your offense won't regret it.
For the third time in their last four games, the Philadelphia Flyers WIN, 3-2, in regulation somehow, over the Columbus Blue Jackets. It's the first time they've won in Columbus without needing more than 60 minutes since 2005. And ignoring that caveat gives you a whopping one extra win over the last decade and a half.
So what gives? Well, this isn't the same Columbus team the Flyers have faced the last few years. They're weaker up front and especially between the pipes, but have put together a decent season thus far under a John Tortorella who knows exactly what buttons to push with this group.
The Blue Jackets struck first less than 5 minutes in, when a Matt Niskanen turnover resulted in an Emil Bemstrom shot that caromed right to Nick Foligno. The Columbus captain capitalized on the vacant net (the same kind of net Bemstrom missed scoring into just a few minutes prior) for fist goal in 18 minutes because he's playing the Flyers so we all saw it coming.
Columbus tried to let the Flyers back into the game, giving Philly three power plays to work with in the first period. The Flyers looked about as dangerous as a kitten playing with yarn on them, however; they managed just two shots on goal combined, and Columbus' PK had a 33.33% Corsi in the first period - that's a really high number for being shorthanded.
The whole power play struggles thing is really a shame because Alain Vigneault said that the only way James van Riemsdyk is going to move back up in the lineup is if he gets going on the man advantage. Although maybe plays like the one he made at the end of the first could be an alternative. JVR made an excellent pass to Tyler Piltick in the slot, setting up a one-timer that was blocked. But then the puck plopped down in front and Tyler Pitlick buried a backhander for his second goal of the year, tying the game going into 1st intermis-why is Gustav Nyquist uncovered below the Flyers goal-line?
With just 36 seconds remaining, Nyquist found Seth Jones for a one-timer that Brian Elliott never saw coming (in his defense, he was screened), restoring the Columbus lead. If only the Blue Jackets could give the Flyers a way back into the game-oh look, a power play for a face-off violation against CBJ on the opening draw of the 2nd that the Flyers do absolutely nothing with.
No, the Flyers wanted to get back into this game the hard way. Kevin Hayes found himself with the puck in basically the same area that JVR did on the Pitlick goal, but with no one open in front, Hayes swung it to Joel Farabee at the right boards. With no Blue Jackets pressuring him, Farabee just laser-beamed a beautiful cross-ice pass for the scoresheet return of Scotty Laughts! Scott Laughton, in his third game since returning, scores his first goal of the season, evening the score!
When the Flyers went on the power play for the fifth time late in the period, I think even the players realized that whatever they were doing wasn't working. Columbus PK was just so aggressive and the Flyers were unable to control the puck with any regularity (emphasize that for the top unit, which was actually the worse of the two). The solution? Just rip it. That's exactly what Claude Giroux did (from the left side at that!), sniping on Korpisalo with JVR providing a distraction in front, putting the Flyers on top for the first time!
There's a phenomenon in hockey know as score effects that states that a trailing team is more likely to control play than a leading or tied team. The effect generally amplifies as the clock ticks down. That's exactly how the third period played out. Columbus generated a Corsi just under 75% and over 83% of the period's expected goals. On paper, they were dominant, and looking at those numbers, you'd expect the Blue Jackets to score at least one goal.
But Brian Elliott wasn't having it. Elliott made several tremendous saves as the clock wound down to keep the Flyers on top. A backdoor one-timer scrambling save on Josh Anderson. An incredible skate save on Sonny Milano, where Elliott begged for an extension harder than a high school student during spirit week and got his left leg out just enough. Two great saves, one on a wrister off the rush and another on a booming one-timer, on Seth Jones in the final two minutes. Make no mistake; the Flyers won this game because of Moose.
Much like the dinner table at Thanksgiving (happy Thanksgiving, everyone!), this game had a little bit of everything. Special teams success, golden goaltending, and depth doing good work that showed up on the scoresheet. Even Robert Hagg had a decent game! Not much more that you could ask for, as the Flyers might just be finding their stride.
The last time the Flyers won a game in Columbus in regulation, Robert Esche was the Flyers goalie and Jeff Carter (future Blue Jackets legend) had the game-winning goal. Time flies, huh?
Not only was Nick Foligno due for a slump-buster because everyone in a scoring drought breaks it against the Flyers, but the Blue Jackets captain has more goals against Philly than any other team.
Columbus has been one of the better first period teams in the NHL lately, scoring the first goal in 9 straight games. That's a good thing, because they haven't won at all this year when giving up the first goal.
Nolan Patrick participated in an optional skate on Thursday morning, an encouraging sign for sure. He also did not have a tinted visor on (the tint could help if Patrick's migraines were sensitive to light).
The Blue Jackets power play has been pretty bad for the last few years, but they came into this game on a 7-18 stretch over their last five games. New PP coach Paul McClean seems to be doing his job, but even the most potent power plays are struggling to do much against the Flyers elite penalty kill.
Columbus' lack of discipline definitely hurt them in this game, but another thing they struggled with were icings. Even during their dominance in the 3rd, the Blue Jackets were missing on a lot of long passes, allowing the Flyers to spend some valuable time on the offensive zone.
James van Riemsdyk not only earned an assist Wednesday, but he hit a pretty big milestone, skating in his 700th NHL game. Congrats, JVR! Don't ever leave us again.
POG Standings Update!
Raff - 2
TK, Starter, Ells, JVR, Lindy, Nisky, Coots, Phil, Frosty, Jake, Pitlick - 1
1st - Claude Giroux (PHI) - Game-Winning Goal
2nd - Oliver Bjorkstrand (CBJ) - 1 Assist, 60% CF, 68.07% xGF
3rd - Brian Elliott (PHI) - .933 SV% (28 Saves/30 Shots)
PHI - 11/29 vs. DET (7-17-3, L5)
CBJ - 11/29 vs. PIT (14-7-4, W3)
Advanced Stats from Naturalstattrick.com
Thumbnail Photo: Jay LaPrete (AP)