COLUMBUS, Ohio — The curse of Nationwide Arena is finally over. Sean Couturier's overtime goal Friday lifted the visiting Flyers over the Columbus Blue Jackets, 2-1, snapping an 11-game losing streak in the Blue Jackets' home building.
On the heels of three consecutive games in which the Blue Jackets recorded 50-plus shots, the Flyers were able to halt that streak, but were still outshot in regulation, 36-25. Entering overtime for the seventh time in their last 13 meetings with the Blue Jackets, the Flyers were able to add to their point total, which now stands at 68 (see standings).
A little Coots OT winner, for your enjoyment 💯 pic.twitter.com/5XL1vqiVhi— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) February 17, 2018
Facing their nemesis Sergei Bobrovsky in net, the Flyers looked to remove the Nationwide hex with Michal Neuvirth in net. After a scoreless first period that played out like an opening round of a boxing match, with both teams feeling each other out, the pace picked up in the second, with Wayne Simmonds depositing the game’s first goal between Bobrovsky’s five-hole — a tip-in goal off the stick of Shayne Gostisbehere. Cam Atkinson’s third-period goal would get the host Blue Jackets to overtime, but it wasn't enough to collect the extra point.
• With his 20th goal of the campaign, Simmonds became the team’s second 20-goal scorer, trailing only Couturier (29) for the team lead. Gostisbehere and Nolan Patrick were credited with helpers on the tally.
• The lead would hold until the 16:32 mark of the third period, when Atkinson found the back of the net after the Flyers iced the puck.
• As per the norm, Bobrovsky was terrific in net. The former Flyer demonstrated his prowess with ridiculous saves throughout the contest, denying Jordan Weal and Couturier, and later sniffing out a one-timer attempt off the stick of Claude Giroux in the first period alone.
• Neuvirth kept the puck out of his own net in the first stanza as well, although in a more unconventional way. The interim starting goalie was able to disrupt a shot by Atkinson, but was unable to secure the rebound. With the puck sitting next to the net, a chaotic scene made for an interesting clear for the Flyers. Despite throwing 11 shots on goal in the first, Dave Hakstol’s team provided help for the goalie by picking off pucks in the neutral zone and serving as a shield for Neuvirth in its own zone.
• After switching ends for the second period, Neuvirth was able to stave off a close-range attempt from Lukas Sedlak, who nearly potted the game’s first goal in the first on a midair one-timer attempt.
• With the Flyers entering the third period holding a rare lead (in Columbus), the Blue Jackets upped the pressure with an aggressive forecheck early in the period before teeing off on Neuvirth in the latter half. The barrage of shots, of course, resulted in Atkinson’s game-tying goal late in the third.
• Referees Jon McIsaac and Wes McCauley were spectators on skates in the early going, as both teams played 5-on-5 for the entire first period. That’s not to say linesmen Tim Nowak and Jonny Murray weren’t active, as they whistled multiple offside violations on the Flyers, and several icing stoppages on Columbus.
• The clean play would ensue until the 13:07 mark of the second, when offsetting penalties to Dale Weise and Sedlak left the contest at 4-on-4 for a pair of minutes. Despite each participant’s penalties, neither team was given a man-advantage through the first 40 minutes.
• In the third, the orange and black were granted the game’s first power play thanks to a too many men on the ice penalty. The Flyers were unable to capitalize on the power play, though, Jakub Voracek was denied by the post with Bobrovsky moving side to side.
• Leading goal scorer Couturier demonstrated slick puck distribution through the early portion of the contest. The 25-year-old showed creativity in slinging centering passes to the slot, generating early scoring chances for his teammates. Couturier’s career year especially made for a scary moment in the second, as the Arizona-born center briefly left the bench area after taking a skate from Pierre-Luc Dubois to his groin area. Couturier would return, though, as fans both in attendance and back home breathed a sigh of relief.
• Despite owning the status of the team’s career-leading point-getter against Columbus (6-13-19), Giroux remains one goal shy of career goal No. 200, and three assists shy of the seventh on the team’s all-time assist list.
• With an assist on Simmonds’ second-period goal, Gostisbehere now needs four assists to reach career assist No. 100.
• The Flyers will return to action on Sunday when they visit the Rangers for a matinee at Madison Square Garden. Sunday’s divisional matchup will mark the first of six games with a single day off between each game to finish out the month, which also includes two showdowns against Montreal, and single games against Columbus and Ottawa.