Flyers blanked again by Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets

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Flyers blanked again by Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets

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They played a very strong second period and had nothing to show for it.

So when it came around to the third period, which has been the Flyers' best period all season, everyone expected they would eventually erase a 1-0 deficit against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Instead, the Flyers came out inexplicitly flat against a team they could have pretty much buried in the Metro Division standings.

Even worse, they gave up a quick goal.

Poof! It was 2-0 and game over at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night, as the Blue Jackets are now just two points behind the Flyers in the playoff hunt for third place (see Instant Replay).

“We came out flat, we let them come into our zone too easy and just let move the puck around way too easy,” Scott Hartnell said.

“The first two periods we battled and were strong on pucks, but that third period, I don’t if it was that power-play goal they scored late [in the second], but to come out flat like that wasn’t our MO and it hasn’t been our MO all year.”

The loss allowed Pittsburgh to officially clinch the division title. The Flyers still need six points to earn a playoff spot.

This was Sergei Bobrovsky’s first start against his former teammates in Philadelphia.

“Yeah was special, definitely,” Bobrovsky said. “It was exciting. It was different; it’s tough to explain. I think it was different. It was special.”

As good as the former Vezina winner was in earning his fourth shutout, the Flyers didn’t make it hard enough on Bobrovsky with quality shots.

“Any time you don’t score, you didn’t test him enough,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said. “We certainly didn’t test him enough in the third period.

“We stopped playing our game for a while. They came at us hard and it looked like we got frustrated.”

Ten shots behind 2-0. Yeah, that won’t cut it.

“They had 22 blocked shots, which is too many and we have to do a better job of getting shots through,” Berube said. “Get rebounds. Bobrovsky challenges. You have to find a way to get rebounds and get rebound goals and we didn’t do that.”

They also had no help from their power play (0-4), which is now 0-7 in the past three games while the Flyers have been shut out consecutively now for the first time since the final two games of John Stevens’ tenure in 2009 (Nov. 28 and Dec. 3).

Berube’s bunch hasn’t scored in 130:25 when they got a late goal against Boston on March 30.

They could have had a penalty shot in the second period but it wasn’t called when Sean Couturier was hooked on a breakaway.

Meanwhile, Claude Giroux went pointless for his third straight game, something he has not done since October when he went five straight without a point to start the 2013-14 season.

“Even though we didn’t score, we did a lot of good things,” Giroux said. “Our third period has to be better.”

The power play was pretty much discombobulated. Then again, it’s been on the downside lately, too. A few dirty goals would likely get the confidence back up.

“The power play, some games it is going to go in and some it isn’t,” Giroux said. “We had our chances … You got to keep doing the same thing as when we were successful.”

Things only get harder for the Flyers from here, too. They meet the Bruins on Saturday in Boston to close our their “Deadly Dozen” of games against all playoff contenders.

So far, the Flyers are 6-3-2 with 14 points during this stretch. A few power-play goals and they would have won three in a row instead of losing three straight.

“We haven’t been able to score over the last two games, but we’re playing great defensively,” offered Wayne Simmonds.

“Obviously, our power play has to step it up. Special teams are a key. Our power play hasn’t been the best these last couple games.”

The big positive is the Flyers are playing well defensively. Their shutout string against opponents ended at 136:02 in the second period on James Wisniewski’s power-play goal -- his third shot on goalie Steve Mason in that sequence.

Hartnell said the focus now shifts to Boston and Sunday’s home game here against Buffalo.

“We have to leave these two games behind us and get a few points this weekend,” he said.

Flyers begin 2017-18 season out West, face Vegas for 1st time in February

Flyers begin 2017-18 season out West, face Vegas for 1st time in February

For the second straight year, the Flyers are beginning the season out West.

The NHL on Thursday released its 2017-18 schedule and as reported Wednesday, the Flyers open the season in San Jose on Oct. 4 as part of a four-game road trip that includes games in Los Angeles, Anaheim and concludes in Nashville on Oct. 10.

They'll return home on Oct. 14 for their home opener against the Washington Capitals that kickstarts a five-game homestand (see story). The Flyers will host the Islanders on Black Friday.

Flyers fans will have to wait a while for their first taste of the Vegas Golden Knights. The Flyers will face the Golden Knights for the first time on Feb. 11 in Vegas.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and the Golden Knights come to Philadelphia on March 12

The Flyers will end the season at home against the New York Rangers.

You can see the Flyers' full schedule here.

NHL Notes: Oilers trade Jordan Eberle to Islanders

NHL Notes: Oilers trade Jordan Eberle to Islanders

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers have traded forward Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders in exchange for forward Ryan Strome.

Eberle has 165 goals and 217 assists over 507 career NHL games, all with Edmonton. He has scored at least 20 goals in each of the past four seasons, and had a career-high 34 in 2011-12.

The Oilers selected Eberle with the 22nd-overall pick in the 2008 NHL draft.

Strome was selected fifth overall by the Islanders in 2011. He has 45 goals and 81 assists in 258 career games with the Isles (see full story).

Panthers: Former Flyer Pronger added to front office
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Former NHL MVP Chris Pronger has joined the Florida Panthers' front office as a senior adviser to team president Dale Tallon.

Pronger played in five All-Star games, represented Canada in the Olympics four times, won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim and appeared in 1,167 regular-season games with five clubs.

The 42-year-old Pronger joins the Panthers after almost three years in the NHL's department of player safety. He joined the league office in October 2014.

The Hall of Fame defenseman's contract expired after this season. He hasn't played in an NHL game since 2012 because of post-concussion symptoms. He got a stick to the eye, which ended his playing career. Philadelphia traded his contract to Arizona in the summer of 2015 (see full story).

Stars: Hitchcock adds 2 former assistants for staff
FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Stars are bringing back longtime assistant Rick Wilson, who once briefly served as their head coach.

Stu Barnes, another former assistant, was hired Thursday to be on the staff of coach Ken Hitchcock. The Stars in April re-hired Hitchcock more than 15 years after firing the coach who led them to their only Stanley Cup championship.

Dallas also retained assistant Curt Fraser, who has been with the Stars for four seasons.

After Hitchcock was fired during the 2001-02 season, Wilson was head coach for the final 32 games. He was then associate head coach from 2002-09, continuing a run with the franchise that included the last season with the Minnesota North Stars before the move to Dallas in 1993. Wilson was on Hitchcock's staff in St. Louis last season.

Barnes ended his playing career in 2008, finishing with five seasons in Dallas. He was an assistant coach from 2008 to 2011.