Kimmo Timonen and the Flyers pulled off a 5-4 comeback win over the Blue Jackets. (AP)
For the first time this season, the Flyers had the opportunity to grab hold of a playoff spot all their own without being tied with anyone, no strings attached.
Win the game and they were third in the Metropolitan Division.
Win the game and they were over .500 for the first time this season.
It was also the first time goalie Steve Mason has faced his former club -- Columbus -- since being traded here last April.
All of that was of incentive for Craig Berube’s Flyers Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center against the Blue Jackets during a stunning 5-4 victory thanks to a blind, backhanded, rebound goal from Claude Giroux with 1:27 left in regulation.
The Flyers trailed 3-0 going into the last period.
Giroux’s second marker was his 100th career goal, too.
After being terribly outplayed in the second period and falling behind three to zip, the Flyers came out buzzing in the third period scoring twice -- Jakub Voracek and Braydon Coburn -- in 5:22 to make a game of it.
They were alive!
And then … Scott Hartnell, who had a poor game, lost a puck battle behind the net and Mason gave up a soft goal to Blake Comeau and it was 4-2.
Over, right? Nope. First, Erik Gustafsson and then Giroux scored to tie it on rebounds.
Columbus was badly outplayed and outshot (14-4) in the opening period, but led 1-0 off a shorthanded goal as the Flyers’ power play was nothing short of ghastly that stanza.
Maybe that stung the Flyers because they flat out rolled over in the second period and allowed the Blue Jackets to take it to them, even giving up a goal in the final 10 seconds of the period, making it 3-0 amid a torrent of boos.
The Flyers were 1-11-0 when trailing after two periods.
Sean Couturier seemed to have a foot or leg injury after getting hit with a puck around the 12:15 mark of the first period. He missed a few shifts being tended to at the bench and briefly appeared on a power play but eventually resumed his regular shift.
Voracek scored his fourth goal in three games.
Mason has given up four goals in four of his last six starts.
Gustafsson had not scored since Oct. 12 at Detroit.
As irony would have it, former Blue Jacket Voracek coughed up a puck on a Flyers power play and Columbus went three-fourths of the ice with a two-on-one. Cam Atkinson was looking pass the entire way and then wristed a shot past Mason for the only goal that first period.
Columbus scored first on just its third shot of the game.
For perhaps the fourth or fifth time this season, a bad line change or defensive change saw a goal come against the Flyers. Columbus made it 2-0 barely five minutes into the second period off a bad defensive change that saw a two-on-one with Coburn the lone defender. Jack Skille buried a shot from the right dot.
The Flyers were brutal on their third power play, twice allowing the Jackets to have an attacker going down the ice chasing a puck unmanned. The Flyers had already been beaten for one shorthanded goal and it could have easily beem two that period. That said, their first power play was excellent with several scoring chances denied by goalie Curtis McElhinney.
Passing from Michael Raffl to Giroux to Voracek early on for a scoring chance but no goal.
Center Vinny Lecavalier (injured back); Defensemen Hal Gill and Andrej Meszaros were healthy.
Coming into the game, the Flyers were 4-0-1 lifetime against the Blue Jackets on home ice. … The Flyers travel to Columbus on Saturday. This will be the first time both Voracek and Mason go back home wearing different uniforms.