By Sam Bush
The Flyers’ road show hits Columbus tonight, and after their win in Los Angeles on Saturday they have some swagger in their skates.
Columbus looks to extend its season-best winning streak to four against a Philly team trying to finish a five-game road trip with back-to-back victories.
The Blue Jackets (9-15-2) had won twice during a 17-game stretch Oct. 24-Nov. 29 before beating Florida in two straight meetings and earning a 3-1 road victory over Atlantic Division-leading Tampa Bay on Saturday.
Sergei Bobrovsky, who played for the Flyers in 2011-12, stopped 33 shots after making a career- and franchise-best 52 saves in Thursday’s 4-3 shootout win over the Panthers.
”He’s just being himself,” said right wing Jack Skille, who scored his fourth goal. ”He’s being Bob. He’s probably one of the hardest working goalies I’ve ever seen. When you see a competitive goalie like that, they’re only going to get better as the season goes on.”
Bobrovsky has been in net for each game during the win streak, posting a 1.62 goals-against average after having a 3.76 GAA in losing his previous five starts.
”I’ve seen Bob play pretty well, and he’s playing pretty well right now,” coach Todd Richards said.
One of the losses during Bobrovsky’s 0-4-1 stretch came Nov. 22 at Philly, which won 4-2. Eight days earlier, Curtis McElhinney started for an injured Bobrovsky in Philly as the Blue Jackets won 4-3.
The Nov. 22 win was the last one for the Flyers (9-13-4) until they pulled out a 2-1 victory at defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles on Saturday.
Owner Ed Snider was in attendance as the Flyers ended an 0-4-2 skid and avoided tying the franchise record of 10 consecutive road losses.
”It’s always frustrating when you’re losing. But by the same token, it happens to teams,” Snider said. ”We were hoping for a good trip, and it could have been better.”
Steve Mason made 37 saves for his first win since beating his former team Nov. 22, and Wayne Simmonds scored his team-leading 11th goal to give him three in the last two games.
”I think you have to look at this as a turnaround for us, I hope,” Snider said. ”I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen. Mason did the job today – but when you come into this building, it’s tough no matter who you are.”
The Flyers next play in a building where they haven’t had much success in recent meetings. After earning two wins and two ties in their first four visits to Nationwide Arena, they’ve lost the last four by a combined 16-6 score.
“They’re an aggressive hockey team. They work extremely hard. They’re strong in net and they’re going to give you a tough game,” coach Craig Berube told the Flyers’ official website. “They’re going to come out hard in this building.”
The Blue Jackets, though, are one of the lowest-scoring teams at home with 28 goals in 13 games. However, they could get a lift from the season debut of center Brandon Dubinsky.
Dubinsky, who had 16 goals and a career-high 34 assists last season, has been out since the early part of training camp after undergoing abdominal surgery.
“He’s big and strong. He can skate with tenacity, the way that he plays,” Richards told the team’s website. “He brings some emotion. His first game back, the first game that he plays, there’s going to be some excitement in a big divisional game against the Flyers.”
Dubinsky had two goals and two assists in the four meetings with Philly last season.