After two sluggish periods, the Flyers awoke Thursday night and made goalie Petr Mrazek a winner in his flashy debut with his new team.
Mrazek, acquired from Detroit on Monday, was superb, and Claude Giroux and blossoming rookie Nolan Patrick scored third-period goals as the surging Flyers rallied past Columbus, 2-1, before a surprisingly sparse crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.
Mrazek made just 19 stops, but many of them were outstanding.
“He had hard saves that he made look easy,” said Giroux, who had two points and won 16 of 19 (84 percent) faceoffs.
“I was really excited for this game,” Mrzaek said. “The day was so long for me. I felt like we were playing at midnight and not at 7. I was ready for it and I’m happy it’s over and we got those two points.”
The win moved the Flyers into a second-place tie with Pittsburgh and increased their points streak to 10 games (8-0-2). They also moved to within one point of first-place Washington.
Columbus had been 18-2-2 when taking a lead into the third period before the Flyers overcame a 1-0 deficit in the final 20 minutes.
The Flyers had been 2-14-3 when trailing after two.
With 10 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in regulation, Patrick snapped a 1-1 tie by scoring on a rebound while the Flyers were on a power-play. In the last two games, Patrick has replaced the injured Wayne Simmonds on the top power-play unit. He has scored a power-play tally in each game, and he has a goal in each of the last three contests.
“I just try to listen to what they say,” Patrick said of his new power-play teammates. “Obviously, it’s tough to come in. Simmy’s the best in the league in front of the net, so just from watching I’m just trying to do the things he was doing.”
Giroux’s 21st goal of the season knotted the score at 2-all with 17:26 left in the third period. Sean Couturier’s pass deflected off a Blue Jacket and caromed to the hustling Giroux, who fired a slot shot over Sergei Bobrovsky’s left shoulder.
“I was just trying to get it on net and it kind of hit the D-man’s stick and found its way,” Giroux said. “It’s the only way I can beat Bob. Just put it on net and you never know what can happen.”
About four minutes later, Mrazek stopped Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cam Atkinson from in close.
Columbus dominated the second period and took a 1-0 lead after a miscue by Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov.
Provorov, at the left point in the offensive end, had his pass to Andrew MacDonald intercepted by Artemi Panarin, who had just come out of the penalty box.
Panarin went in on a two-on-one and beat Mrazek with a left-circle shot to the short side, giving the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead with 7:09 left in the second period.
Before the goal, Mrzaek did not bang his stick on the ice to warn his new teammates that the penalty was almost over. He said he couldn’t find the power-play clock on the scoreboard until it was too late and Panarin was breaking down ice.
Mrazek made three difficult second-period stops on Alexander Wennberg, and denied Atkinson and Scott Harrington from close range.
If the first period was any indication, Mrazek probably thought playing for the Flyers was going to be a proverbial day at the beach.
Mrazek, who allowed one goal or fewer in six of his last 10 games with the Red Wings, had to face just two shots in a scoreless first period.
Jordan Weal, who was replaced by Oskar Lindblom on the second line in the second half of the game, was called for interference with 5:19 left in the opening period. It marked the first time in four games the Flyers had allowed a power play. They tied a league record by going three straight games without allowing a power-play chance, according to the NHL, which started keeping such records in 1977.
Shayne Gostisbehere had a pair of assists — the 99th and 100th of his career — as the Flyers improved to a stunning 24-8-3 since ending their 10-game winless skid in early December.
“In the second period, they kind of took it to us a little bit,” said Giroux, whose team was outshot by 14-6 in that stanza, “… But we were able to find a way to get the two points and it’s fun to be able to win these kind of games.”
They are making a habit out of it.