By Mary Cunningham
The Flyers’ fading playoff hopes may have died yesterday in Ohio.
And it was a goalie they once had who inflicted the fatal blow!
Sergei Bobrovsky made 36 saves in his seventh shutout of the season, helping Columbus beat the Flyers 1-0.
The Russian goalie was terrific in his NHL-leading 40th win, and Alexander Wennberg tipped in the game’s only goal. The gritty victory in front of a sellout crowd broke a two-game losing streak for the playoff-bound Blue Jackets (48-19-7) and moved them into a tie with idle Pittsburgh for second in the Metropolitan Division.
Bobrovsky’s 19th career shutout tied the franchise high. And it came against his former team.
“I don’t think about statistic points,” the typically understated Bobrovsky said. “It’s very important to me that we win each game.”
The Flyers (34-32-8), trying to muscle their way back into wild-card race, created more opportunities and outshot Columbus 36-21. Michal Neuvirth made 20 stops in their 10th straight loss at Nationwide Arena.
With just under seven minutes left in the second period, Wennberg managed to bat a Kyle Quincey shot out of the air , with the puck sneaking through Neuvirth’s pads.
“It was going high, so I tried to stay patient,” Neuvirth said. “I didn’t expect anybody to tip it in front.”
Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said it was a tough one to lose.
“You play really good hockey all game, and one breakdown and it’s in the back of our net,” he said. “That’s all it took for them. It’s definitely frustrating. You have all the chances in the world and you can’t get one in.”
Columbus coach John Tortorella said it all comes down to Bobrovsky.
“I thought Bob made a couple of great saves, a couple he didn’t even see, but he was in such good position,” Tortorella said. “He’s locked in. There’s not a lot of extra movement. He just looks confident, he’s preparing himself. We needed a guy like that to have 100 points or more.”
The game included 11 penalties, some resulting from skirmishes and attitude in front of the net as the Blue Jackets tried to keep the Flyers from crashing Bobrovsky and bouncing him around. Boone Jenner and Philadelphia’s Radko Gudas were penalized for fighting when they dropped the gloves and brawled briefly in the second period.
“We’re going to protect (Bobrovsky),” Tortorella said.
Quincey got his first point with the Blue Jackets. The defenseman was acquired in a trade with New Jersey on March 1.
“We’re probably not playing our best hockey right now, but we’re learning how to win the greasy ones,” he said.