Through 40 minutes, the Blue Jackets looked the part of a team fully engaged in a divisional battle against a team as desperate for points as they are. And then everything came unraveled.
Down 3-0 through two periods on home ice, the Philadelphia Flyers skated to the dressing room to a chorus of boos inside the Wells Fargo Center mere moments after Nick Foligno scored to put the Blue Jackets ahead by three goals with 7.5 seconds remaining in the second period. The Blue Jackets were in control, playing their game and had the Flyers frustrated due to a lack of quality chances and some hard-working efforts on the forecheck.
And to call it "disappointing" when that 3-0 lead dissipates into nothing at the end of the night is a major understatement.
The Flyers' push was not unexpected, as Matt Calvert said post-game: any team trailing on its home ice entering the third period is going to come out strong and try to get back into the game. But the Blue Jackets were caught back on their heels, chasing pucks and chasing the Flyers around their zone and yielding chance after chance on Curtis McElhinney, who was under siege in the final stanza.
Jakub Voracek, Brayden Coburn, Erik Gustafsson and Claude Giroux (who had been relatively quiet earlier in the game) scored third-period goals for the Flyers who got the game-winner with 1:39 to play. Giroux, after receiving a shot off the end boards and with David Savard on his back, whipped a no-look backhand shot under the crossbar and in, capping one of the more wild and unpredictable third periods in recent memory.
The Blue Jackets will get another crack at these Flyers on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena, but right now, that's not much solace. They let valuable Metropolitan Division points slip away and now are asked to make up more ground in the playoff race as we near the halfway point of the season.
The Blue Jackets got a big goal from Blake Comeau minutes after the Flyers made it 3-2, shoveling home a great pass by Artem Anisimov and restoring a two-goal cushion. But the Flyers, again, pounced on some sloppy play by the Blue Jackets and scored a tide-turning goal on a delayed penalty (Gustafsson's tally made it 4-3). It didn't take long after that for Giroux to push the puck over the line to draw Philadelphia even at 4-4, and by now, we all know what happened after that.
1. CLAUDE GIROUX (PHI)
There's been some conversation about Giroux's confidence lately, but he put his team on his back late in the third period. A diving effort tied the game 4-4, and his wheeling backhander won it for Philadelphia.
2. JAKE VORACEK (PHI)
A multi-point third period from the former Jackets forward really got the Flyers going, and his early tally made it 3-1 with plenty of game to be played.
3. NICK FOLIGNO (CBJ)
Foligno scored what appeared to be a very important goal for the Blue Jackets late in the second period, a goal that made it 3-0 Blue Jackets and gave them a firm grasp on things heading into the final 20.
VS. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
SATURDAY, 7 P.M.