Fading Flyers lose to Blue Jackets

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Columbus Blue Jackets' Jack Johnson, right, and Philadelphia Flyers' Wayne Simmonds collide during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, March 13, 2017, in Philadelphia.

Maybe it was the threat of snow that reduced Monday's crowd at the usually sold-out Wells Fargo Center. Or perhaps it was the Flyers' diminishing playoff chances.

Those chances became even slimmer as the Flyers' special teams continued to falter in a 5-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Brandon Dubinsky's left-circle, power-play goal with 11 minutes, 14 seconds left in regulation snapped a 3-3 tie, sending the Flyers to their third straight defeat.

"I had a read on it, and he beat me," goalie Steve Mason said. "That's a save I wanted to come up with and obviously didn't."

Cam Atkinson added an empty-net goal with 20.9 seconds remaining.

Columbus was 1 for 2 on the power play. In the last five games, the Flyers have allowed seven power-play goals in 15 chances.

Meanwhile, the Flyers' power play converted just one of eight chances Monday. Despite having nearly 10 minutes more power-play time than the Blue Jackets in the first two periods, the Flyers were outshot, 21-19.

The Flyers, who began the night six points out of a playoff spot, wasted rookie Travis Konency's first two-goal game of his young career. Konency, however, was in the penalty box for roughing Oliver Bjorkstrand when Dubinsky scored the winning goal.

"It's kind of the only thing on my mind right now," Konecny said of the penalty. "I kind of let the game get to me. I was in the mix a lot tonight, and for whatever reason, I decided to bump the guy on my way to the bench and they thought it was a penalty. It was a stupid penalty by me and honestly I put the game in my hands there. It's unacceptable."

"That loss isn't on him. He may feel that way, but it's on the power play," Brayden Schenn said.

Schenn added that if the Flyers didn't have such a huge disparity in power plays - 8-1 at the time - he didn't think a penalty would have been called.

Columbus, which played without ailing winger/captain Nick Foligno (24 goals), set a franchise record for wins and points in a season. The Blue Jackets are 44-18-6 for 94 points.

Schenn snapped the Flyers' 1-for-19 power-play funk by scoring on a one-timer from the left circle to tie the score at 2 with 15:37 left in the second. It was Schenn's 20th goal, and his league-leading 15th on the power play.

Schenn scored after taking a no-look pass from Claude Giroux, and getting help from Wayne Simmonds' screen in front of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

A little less than seven minutes later, after the Flyers squandered their next four power plays, Konecny put his team ahead, 3-2, by beating Bobrovksy to the short side.

It was a highlight-film goal by the 20-year-old rookie, who took possession near the left boards, weaved through traffic and fired a right circle shot past Bobrovksy's glove.

The lead didn't last. Sean Couturier lost a faceoff to William Karlsson, who sent the puck back to Zach Werenski. The 19-year-old defenseman whipped a shot past Mason, who appeared to be screened. The goal knotted the score at 3 with 5:30 to go in the second.

Konecny nearly had a hat trick with 2:44 remaining in the second, but the refs ruled his goal was scored after the net came off its moorings, courtesy of Jake Voracek shoving Werenski into it.

Ex-Flyers Sam Gagner and Bobrovsky helped Columbus take a 2-1 lead into the second period.

Two Blue Jackets turnovers put Matt Read and Ivan Provorov in alone on Bobrovsky in the game's opening 61/2 minutes. The 28-year-old goalie bailed out his teammates with saves he made look easy.

Gagner opened the scoring, blasting a one-timer from the high slot with 12:18 left in the first.

A minute later, Atkinson scored on a breakaway to make it 2-0. Radko Gudas turned the puck over as he was falling down in the Columbus defensive zone, and his pass was intercepted by Werenski, who sent Atkinson away on a two-on-none break.

With 5:50 to go in the first, Konecny sliced the deficit to 2-1, scoring from the left circle while the Flyers had an extra attacker because of a delayed penalty.

"Honestly, I was looking to pass it," Konecny said after his second goal in the last four games. "I knew there was a guy coming in, so I looked to my right side and I don't think he was expecting the shot when I let it go."

After the Flyers fell into a 2-0 hole, Konecny said, "we were kind of deflated, but then the older guys spoke up and kind of got us going and on the right track."

The Flyers were trying to rebound from the most painful loss of their roller-coaster-ride season.

On Saturday, Drew Stafford lobbed a shot that deflected off the stick of defenseman Brandon Manning and past Mason with 5.6 seconds left, giving Boston a stunning 2-1 win.

"The reality of it was that we played real well; we have to take that and bring the same effort into it," coach Dave Hakstol said before Monday's game. "The effort of our team has been good."

The Flyers will host Pittsburgh (and former teammate Mark Streit) on Wednesday. The Penguins, Columbus and Washington are in a fierce three-way battle for the Metropolitan Division title.

The Flyers are fighting for their playoff lives.

scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

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