Throughout the year, head coach John Tortorella has said he's not quite sure what he'll get when his team faces matinee games on the weekend.
Saturday, the answer was a sleepy one, as the Blue Jackets couldn't get much going in a 4-2 loss at Philadelphia, extending the team's losing streak to six with just one game left to go before the postseason.
Seth Jones and Boone Jenner scored but the Jackets never led as the Flyers, cruising into the offseason without a playoff bid, improved to 7-3-1 in their last 11 games. Philadelphia scored twice in the first and twice in the second to build a 4-1 lead and turned to goaltender Steve Mason to shepherd it home.
Afterward, Tortorella said the team's skid was human nature given it had already clinched a playoff spot. As for most specific questions about his team, he demurred, saying, "It's so hard to judge in these types of circumstances."
Looking to break a five-game losing streak, the Blue Jackets came out with energy at the Wells Fargo Center, jumping to an early 5-0 shots advantage.
Alexander Wennberg nearly got the Blue Jackets party started with two great opportunities on Flyers' goalie Steve Mason's doorstep, but was turned away on a shot and quick rebound six minutes in.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare put the Flyers on the board first, when he took a drop pass from Chris VandeVelde and beat Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky with a missile of a wrist shot, high glove side, 12:52 into the first period.
The goal came on a tough angle and is probably one Bobrovsky would like to have back.
Ninety-two seconds later, Michael Del Zotto made it 2-0, Flyers, when he took a cross-ice pass from Brayden Schenn and fired it on net from the sideboard, 30 feet out. The goal was waved off for goalie interference, but upon review, it was determined that Jackets defensman Seth Jones' skate tangled with Bobrovsky and the call was overturned.
The Flyers would go on force action during the last five minutes of the period and took a 10-7 shots edge to the first intermission.
"We did have a good start," Tortorella said. "They score a goal and we lost ourselves. They turned it up. In these types of games, it's which team is going to seize the momentum. They did. It was one of those games."
The Blue Jackets would score first in the second, but the teams ultimately traded a pair of goals to maintain the status quo.
Jones notched the first Columbus goal of the afternoon when he – are you sitting down for this – scored from the point on the power play just 1:07 into the second period.
The goal was the Blue Jackets' first on the power play in the last 13 games. They were 0 for their previous 20 odd man advantages. For Jones, it was his 12th goal of the season, tying the franchise record for goals by a defenseman, set by Bryan Berard in 2005-06.
Alexander Wennberg's hard skating set up the Blue Jackets power play, their first man advantage in five periods of play.
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The goal didn't spark much, though, as the Flyers responded with a pair of goals. Former Jacket Jakub Voracek got his 20th goal of the season at 6:42 with a power-play marker. Left alone in the right circle, he took a pass from Claude Giroux, moved toward the center of the ice and let go a quick shot that snuck by Bobrovsky.
The Flyers made it 4-1 at 13:48 of the period when 20-year-old defenseman Ivan Provorov let go a bullet from the left point that hit the bar on the short side and bounced into the net behind Bobrovsky.
Columbus did answer with an odd-man rush, as Jenner scored at 16:00 of the second. Jenner took a pass from Sam Gagner in the slot and fired a shot that deflected and bounced past Mason.
That was all the offense Columbus could muster, though, despite some good shifts in the third. The Jackets also played the second half of the period without Cam Atkinson, the team's leading goal scorer who appeared to be benched by the coaching staff.
"I obviously have to be way better," he said in postgame. "I've been trying, but I don't know what to tell you guys. We have to get back to rolling our lines and doing what made us successful in the past."
Carlsson Gets the Start
Gabriel Carlsson completed his Sweden to Cleveland to Columbus whirlwind with the start on the blue line next to Jones today. It was the NHL debut for the No. 29 pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
Carlsson jumped right in, finishing the first period with a game-high three hits. He played 19:15 of action and was a minus-3 in his debut.
"It was pretty OK. A decent game," he told Fox Sports Ohio afterward. "You just try to have fun and work hard. There were some unlucky goals there, but it was fun."
The Blue Jackets travel to Toronto to conclude the regular season Sunday (6 p.m., FSOH). The teams have split their previous two meetings with the Blue Jackets winning 5-2 on Feb. 15 and then the Leafs returning the favor, taking a 5-2 decision on March 22.
The game might be pivotal for the Maple Leafs' chances of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders are nipping at their heels for the final spot in the Eastern Conference.