Five observations from the Flyers’ 2-1 overtime win in Columbus on Friday:
The Flyers won in Columbus! The Flyers won in Columbus! The Flyers won in Columbus!
Thanks to Sean Couturier’s OT goal, the Flyers ended a looooong drought in Columbus. It was Couturer’s 29th goal, tops on the team.
The Flyers hadn’t won in Columbus since Dec. 13, 2005, when Peter Forsberg, rookie Jeff Carter, and Sami Kapanen scored in a 3-1 victory. Robert Esche made 23 saves, and Ben Eager and Matt Ellison had assists.
Yeah, it had been a while.
Since that 20005 win, the Flyers were 0-5-6 in Columbus entering Friday. The last eight games between the teams in Columbus have been decided by one goal; seven of those eight games have gone past regulation.
With Brian Elliott sidelined for at least five weeks, Michal Neuvirth needs to step up.
On Friday, he did just that.
Neuvirth, coming off a 5-4 shootout loss to visiting New Jersey, made 35 saves and came within 3:28 of his second shutout of the season – and his first since Nov. 2 in St. Louis.
Look for Neuvirth to make his fourth straight start when the Flyers play the fading New York Rangers at noon Sunday in Madison Square Garden.
Columbus recently become the first team since 1955-56 (Chicago) to have at least 50 shots in three straight games. The Blue Jackets average a league-high 35 shots per game, but are near the bottom of the NHL in goals scored.
Simmonds on a roll
After a slow start that was caused by a slew of injuries, right winger Wayne Simmonds is having one of his typical seasons.
His second-period tally Friday, which snapped a scoreless tie, marked the fifth straight year he had scored at least 20 goals.
Simmonds , stationed in front of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, tipped in Shayne Gostisbehere’s point drive after Nolan Patrick won a faceoff.
“He’s probably one of the top two goalies in the league, so you have to take his eyes away, Simmonds said.
Simmonds, 29, has been the definition of consistency since the Flyers acquired him before the 2011-12 season: 28 goals in his first year in Orange and Black, 15 in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, followed by seasons of 29, 28, 32, 31 and 20 so far this year.
If the Flyers hadn’t foolishly dealt Bobrovsky in 2012, they would probably be atop the Metropolitan Division right now.
Instead, they get to face Bob when they meet Columbus, and that hasn’t been a very good thing.
Take Friday’s first period, for instance.
The Flyers played well and had numerous golden chances, but they left the ice in a scoreless tie after the first 20 minutes.
All because of Bobrovsky.
He made terrific saves on point-blank chances by Couturier, Jordan Weal and Claude Giroux in the first 9:05. The stop on Giroux ruined a three-on-one rush.
Bobrovsky was also superb the rest of the way, including a great save on Travis Konecny with about 1:30 left in regulation.
Entering the game, Bobrovsky was 9-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .939 save percentage against the Flyers. He was 6-0 with a 1.29 GAA and .954 save percentage at home against his ex-teammates.
Yes, he likes showing the Flyers they made a huge mistake by signing Ilya Bryzgalov, which led to Bobrovsky asking to be traded.
Top-line center Couturier, arguably the Flyers’ MVP, had to leave the game with an apparent skate cut in the second period and get repairs in the locker room. He came back a short time later and made his presence felt.
Couturier is the Flyers’ leading goal scorer and their best defensive forward. In other words, he is a player the Flyers cannot afford to lose.
His goal was the second OT winner of his career, and it made the Flyers 5-0-2 in their last seven games.
The Flyers have won their last six games that were decided in overtime. Columbus had been 6-0 in OT games before Konecny set up Couturier for the game-winner.