Patrick, Mrazek lift streaking Flyers over Blue Jackets 2-1
(AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)
By AARON BRACY
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Petr Mrazek showed just why the Flyers traded for him.
Mrazek made 19 saves in his Philadelphia debut and Nolan Patrick scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period, leading the streaking Flyers to a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
Claude Giroux had a goal and an assist and Shayne Gostisbehere added two assists for the Flyers, who won their fourth straight game while improving to 8-0-2 in the last 10. The Flyers (32-19-10) began play comfortably in a playoff position and moved within a point of Washington, which lost 3-2 at Florida, for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
"He was outstanding," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said of Mrazek. "When they had their push, he made probably a good half-dozen excellent saves at key times."
Mrazek was acquired in a trade with Detroit on Monday night. Philadelphia needed a goalie after backup Michal Neuvirth went down with a lower-body injury on Sunday that will keep him out four to six weeks. Regular starter Brian Elliott already was out with a lower-body injury that will sideline him for five more weeks.
"It was awesome, a huge two points," Mrazek said. "I was excited for this game. The day was so long I felt like I was playing at midnight."
Mrazek won 72 games in six seasons with the Red Wings. He made a good shoulder save on David Savard three minutes in and three excellent stops in the second period, including short-handed chances by Alexander Wennberg and Matt Calvert. Mrazek wore red-and-white pads as he waited for new ones to arrive with Flyers colors, and he sported an all-white goalie mask without any design.
With or without the matching equipment, the Flyers loved what they saw from their new goalie.
"The hard saves he made look easy," Giroux said. "We're really happy for him."
Artemi Panarin scored for Columbus (30-26-5), which dropped into a tie with the New York Islanders for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
"I thought we played good tonight," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "We needed to kill another (penalty) and we didn't. That's what cost us the game."
Patrick scored on a power play with 10:11 remaining. It was his second straight game with a man-advantage goal since replacing injured Wayne Simmonds on the Flyers' top line. Gostisbehere took the initial shot from the point and Patrick backhanded it home after goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky stopped the drive from the point. Giroux also assisted on the goal, and it was Brandon Dubinsky's trip of Giroux that led to the power play.
Patrick said he's been an eager study from the bench all season.
"I watch (Simmonds) every game," Patrick said. "He's unbelievable. You just learn from just watching every day."
Giroux tied the game 1-all 2:34 into the third period when his wrist shot from the slot got past Bobrovsky on his glove side. The Flyers were fortunate on the play as Sean Couturier's pass toward the center of the ice went off Panarin's skate and right to a wide-open Giroux.
Panarin opened the scoring with 7:09 left in the second after surprising the Flyers' defense, getting in alone on Mrazek and beating the goalie on the blocker side to up his team-leading point total to 50. Panarin was serving a bench minor for too many men on the ice, and Philadelphia defenseman Andrew MacDonald was unaware of Panarin's presence when trying to receive a pass from Ivan Provorov at the Columbus blue line. Panarin snuck behind MacDonald and stole the puck on his way to scoring.
Gostisbehere upped his point total in February to 16 (one goal, 15 assists), which is tops among NHL defensemen.
NOTES: Simmonds (upper body) missed his second straight game in what is expected to be a two-to-three-week absence, while forward Travis Konecny sat out after getting hit in the left foot by a shot in Tuesday's 3-2 overtime win against Montreal. Their absence means a combined 71 points is missing from the lineup. ... After going three straight games without allowing a power play, the Flyers finally went on the penalty kill when Jordan Weal was whistled for interference with 5:19 left in the first period. ... Bobrovsky fell to 9-3-1 against Philadelphia.
Blue Jackets: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
Flyers: At the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
More AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey
Updated February 23, 2018