Instant Replay: Blue Jackets 5, Flyers 2

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Instant Replay: Blue Jackets 5, Flyers 2

BOX SCORE

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Thursday night's Flyers-Blue Jackets game could have been played in the New Jersey Governor’s Mansion. This matchup had some meat on it, and it was full of intriguing subplots.

The Jackets were playing the 1,000th game in their checkered history. They had won their previous seven, a franchise record. Their goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky, was making his first start against his former team.

The Flyers were skating through a touch of mid-winter adversity. They played a snow-postponed game at the Wells Fargo Center the night before, flew from one frigid city to another and had to find a way to finish an unplanned back-to-back.

The real measure of the game, of course, was in the standings.

The Jackets defeated the Flyers 5-2 in front of 15,571 at Nationwide Arena. With that, the Jackets (26-20-4) moved ahead of the Flyers (25-21-6) and into third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Ray Emery was in the net for the Flyers. He has allowed 10 goals in two starts against the Jackets this season.

The Flyers have lost two in a row. They are 2-4-2 in their past eight games.

The Jackets took a 3-2 lead into the third period. Brandon Dubinsky (wrist shot from the hash marks) and Nathan Horton (undressed Andrej Meszaros and beat Emery top-shelf) scored within 3 minutes, 25 seconds of one another to put it out of reach.

Bobrovsky is 9-0 in his last nine starts.

First shot
As they did against Carolina on Wednesday, the Flyers got off to a slow start in Columbus. Their first shot on net came at 5:38, a Brayden Schenn wrist shot that Bobrovsky handled easily. (Their first shot against Carolina came at 7:54.)

First goal
It was a funny one. Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson tossed an innocent-looking floater in from the right wall. The puck went off the inside of Luke Schenn’s knee, backwards through Schenn’s legs and found the inside of the left post.

It was Johnson’s first goal since Game 4, a span of 45 games. It gave the Jackets a 1-0 lead at 8:20 of the first period.

Special teams
Scott Hartnell took a double-minor -- two for tripping, two for slashing -– at 8:20 of the first period. Hartnell didn’t like the one penalty, or maybe the other, it was hard to tell. In any case, the Flyers did yeoman’s work killing off the four minutes. They did not allow the Jackets a shot in that span.

Vincent Lecavalier scored a power-play goal on a one-timer from the right circle at 7:21 of the second period. It was the Flyers’ seventh power-play goal in eight games. It gave them a 2-1 lead, which was short-lived.

More special teams
The Jackets apparently made some tactical adjustments to their own power play. With a man advantage late in the second, the Jackets totally hemmed in the Flyers. It was a shooting gallery. Emery held until the final seconds of Braydon Coburn’s holding penalty -- and then Matt Calvert scored, on the doorstep, with a twist of his right skate. That gave the Jackets a 3-2 lead.

Still more special teams
The Flyers had a man advantage, and a brief, two-man advantage, over the last 1:41 of the second period.

They had 19 seconds of two-man advantage followed by 76 seconds of man advantage at the start of the third period.

They did not cash in.

Riding Mason
Flyers goaltender Steve Mason would have started this game if not for the snowstorm, and the unplanned back-to-back. Mason, of course, won the Calder Trophy during the playoffs in 2008-09 -– when he carried the Jackets to their lone playoff appearance.

For some reason, Columbus fans forget that and focus more on the struggles Mason had in subsequent seasons.

They were chanting, “We want Mason” in the third period.

Scratches
Defensemen Erik Gustafsson and Hal Gill and winger Jay Rosehill were healthy scratches.

AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

Players on American Hockey League contracts will be eligible to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

President and CEO David Andrews confirmed through a league spokesman Wednesday that teams were informed they could loan players on AHL contracts to national teams for the purposes of participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The AHL sent a memo to its 30 clubs saying players could only be loaned for Olympic participation from Feb. 5-26.

The Olympic men's hockey tournament runs from Feb. 9-25. Like the NHL, which is not having its players participate for the first time since 1994, the AHL does not have an Olympic break in its schedule.

The AHL's decision does not affect players assigned to that league on NHL one- or two-way contracts. No final decision has been made about those players.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report that the league had told its 31 teams that AHL players could be loaned to play in the Olympics. It was an AHL memo sent at the direction of that league's board of governors.

When the NHL announced in April that it wouldn't be sending players to South Korea after participating in five consecutive Olympics, Andrews said the AHL was prepared for Canada, the United States and other national federations to request players.

"I would guess we're going to lose a fair number of players," Andrews said in April. "Not just to Canada and the U.S., but we're going to lose some players to other teams, as well. But we're used to that. Every team in our league has usually got two or three guys who are on recalls to the NHL, so it's not going to really change our competitive integrity or anything else."

The U.S. and Canada are expected to rely heavily on players in European professional leagues and college and major junior hockey to fill out Olympic rosters without NHL players.

With AHL experience, Flyers prospect Nicolas Aube-Kubel out to score again

With AHL experience, Flyers prospect Nicolas Aube-Kubel out to score again

VOORHEES, N.J. — At the junior level, scoring was second nature to Nicolas Aube-Kubel, like riding a bike after you figure out the balance aspect.

Goals came in bunches and points piled up — that was his game and it came effortlessly at times, especially over his final two seasons with the QMJHL's Val-d'Or Foreurs, posting back-to-back campaigns of 38 markers and 80-plus assists.

"Usually in junior, scoring was always coming naturally to me, having points and goals," he said last week at Flyers development camp.

On the AHL ice last season, it was a whole new ballgame. For Aube-Kubel, Year 1 of pro hockey was a feeling-out process from start to finish. His prolific scoring didn't carry over much at all, as the speedy 5-foot-11 winger finished with nine goals and nine assists in 71 regular-season games for Lehigh Valley.

"Guys are better with the puck," he said of the AHL. "I've always been strong on the ice and skating-wise, too, but translating to the AHL, guys are faster, guys are quicker with the puck and less turnovers."

This was part of toeing the waters in a new surrounding. Not many prospects jump from the junior ranks to the AHL without missing a beat. Aube-Kubel, who turned 21 in May, wanted to fulfill his role and duties first before worrying about scoring. He finished the season as a plus-10, tied for fourth best on the team and tops among Phantoms with 70 or more games played.

"I've always been an offensive player," Aube-Kubel said. "From being my first year in the pros, I was trying more to focus on details and what the coach was telling me. I'm excited for next year and I'll try to step up my game, for sure, and try to do what I was doing in junior."

Following his fourth development camp, Aube-Kubel finds himself heading into an interesting second season with Lehigh Valley. A lot has changed since he was taken by the Flyers in the second round of the 2014 draft. With time, the organization has significantly built up its prospect pool and added depth at forward. 

Aube-Kubel is just fine with that.

"Since I've been drafted, there was depth," he said. "Any way I'm going to play in the NHL, I'm going to make my own spot. No one is going to give it to you. If there are more drafted players, it doesn't change anything."

He's also enjoyed working with the Phantoms' staff, led by head coach Scott Gordon. More development off the ice and a greater workload during games should help moving forward.

"I liked it. They treat you like a pro," he said. "Everyone does their own thing. If you cheat or if you're not serious about it, it's you to pay off. If you're not serious, it's going to be you that gets penalized."

If Aube-Kubel needs any comfort in the quiet start to his pro career, he can look back at his first season of junior play. He tallied just 10 goals and 27 points in 64 regular-season games. Then he jumped to 53 points (22 goals, 31 assists) in 65 games in 2013-14 before scoring at will over his third and fourth seasons with Val-d'Or.

Maybe easing his way in is just part of his hockey DNA.

If so, keep an eye on Aube-Kubel next season.

"This year, I was maybe more focusing on having a role and trying to do what the coach was asking of me," Aube-Kubel said. "Now that it's all set, I'm going to focus on offensive play. I don't want to put pressure on myself, but last year wasn't my best offensive year. It was also my first year. I think I was trying to learn a lot of it and we'll see what happens next year."