COLUMBUS, Ohio — If you feel like you've seen this movie in the exact same theater before, it's because you have.
Thanks to Pierre-Luc Dubois' shootout goal, and some tough luck, the Flyers head into the Christmas break losers of two straight and winless in Columbus for the 12th straight calendar year.
Just 24 hours after enduring a disappointing regulation loss in Buffalo, the pair of points on Columbus ice remained elusive despite eking out the shootout loss point.
“It’s a good team and a tough barn to take points out of and I’m proud of the way the guys played,” said goalie Brian Elliott, who was burdened with the loss despite stopping 35 of 36 shots thrown his way.
In just their fifth contest of the season against a division opponent — and the first of four against their rival from Ohio — the Flyers once again found themselves playing catch-up thanks to Seth Jones’ power-play goal in the opening stanza.
The Flyers answered in the second with Ivan Provorov’s blast from the point that found eyes through traffic and past Sergei Bobrovsky, who now stands just one win away from his 200th career NHL win.
Despite Bobrovsky’s 30-save performance, the Flyers had their chances. After Provorov's goal in the second, the Flyers appeared to take the lead on a deflection off the stick of Taylor Leier. The play was reviewed, however, and waived off due to Leier’s stick making contact with the puck above the crossbar.
In the third period, Jakub Voracek was thwarted on two separate opportunities, including a close-range one-on-one chance against Bobrovsky after causing a turnover in the Flyers’ offensive zone.
Additionally, Sean Couturier — who added his 16th assist of the season on Provorov’s goal — nearly prevented overtime by beating Bobrovsky to only see his wrister go off the inside of the post.
“A couple bounces either way, like Cootsy’s chance at the end there," Travis Konecny said, "it goes up inside the post so I think it was a good effort tonight.”
Missing key defenseman Zach Werenski, Columbus failed to put the visiting Flyers away early despite dictating the pace of play throughout much of the contest. For those familiar with games between these teams though, outcomes are seldom of a wide margin.
Despite finding themselves pressured once again by an aggressive Blue Jackets team, the orange and black were able to force overtime for the sixth time during the span of their 11-game skid in Columbus.
And although Hakstol’s team came away from Buffalo empty-handed, they depart Ohio’s capital with one point in hand — a valuable point as they now sit four points out of the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
“I think we had a real good effort from our lineup,” Hakstol said. “Obviously, we weren’t happy with the result or, you know, overall how things went for us last night, but I think tonight, you can flip that around the exact opposite. We had real good efforts from everyone in the lineup.”
With an exhausting five-game gauntlet in eight days behind them, the Flyers not only welcome the Christmas break, they also know things could be a lot worse.
“I feel good about our team,” Provorov said. “We’re playing hard, we’re getting better, you know, that 10-game losing streak kind of set us back a little bit in points, but we stuck with it, kept battling and we’ll continue to do that.”
With three games remaining against Columbus on the schedule, and one more at Nationwide Arena, the Flyers will have to find a way to end what’s now become a running narrative — the fact they can’t win in Columbus.
Not only do they have just two wins in the former Western Conference city, no player on the current roster was on the team that last won on Dec. 13, 2005.
It’s a hurdle that must be cleared if general Ron Hextall’s blueprint is to turn into a masterpiece.