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Flyers-Jackets: 5 Takeaways as Sloppy Philly Falls to Johnny Gaudreau & Co.

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Tony DeAngelo
Defenseman Tony DeAngelo brought the Philadelphia Flyers to within 3-1 in the second, but they fell in Columbus, 5-2.

John Tortorella went back to his old stomping grounds, Columbus, for the first time since he and the Blue Jackets parted ways in the spring of 2021.

It wasn’t the return he wanted.

Tortorella’s Philadelphia Flyers dropped a 5-2 decision Thursday to the lowly Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

Columbus (4-9), which sits in last place in the Metro, snapped a five-game losing streak, while the Flyers (7-4-2) suffered just their second regulation loss in their last seven games.

The Flyers committed turnovers leading to goals that gave Columbus a 3-0 lead. Philly rallied to within 3-2, but the Blue Jackets scored a pair of empty-net goals to seal the victory.

“We almost gift-wrapped them a few,” defenseman Tony DeAngelo said about the Flyers’ sloppy start.

Tortorella, who received a standing ovation when a tribute video was shown during a first-period stoppage, left the arena after the game without speaking to the media.

The first-year Flyers coach had downplayed his return to Columbus, saying the only thing that mattered was winning the game.

But the Philadelphia Flyers gave away goals and had a difficult time solving goalie Joonas Korpisalo, who stopped 32 of 34 shots.

“The lesson for a lot of our guys is we don’t have to work harder; we have to work smarter,” Flyers associate coach Brad Shaw said.

Here are five quick observations:

1. Columbus’ Johnny Gaudreau showed the Flyers what they are missing.

The speedy left winger wanted to sign with his hometown Flyers in the summer, but Philly was short on cap space and passed.

Gaudreau, a South Jersey native, continued his strong start, scoring the game’s first goal and setting up the next two scores.  Zach Werenski scored the second tally with 7:57 left in the first period as the Jackets took advantage of Owen Tippett’s poor pass and went on an odd-man rush.

Early in the second period, a Travis Konecny turnover led to a three-on-one rush started by — who else? — Gaudreau. The rush ended with Boone Jenner finishing off a slick passing play, and Gaudreau collecting his third point of the night, giving the Jackets a 3-0 cushion.

Gaudreau finished with thee points and a plus-3 rating. He has 19 points in 14 career games against the Flyers.

2. Owen Tippett had a rough night.

One game after he had a goal and assist, Tippett struggled on the defensive end as two of his first-period miscues led to Columbus goals.

Tippett tried to make amends with 4:36 left in the first, but his point-blank backhander was turned aside by Korpisalo, and the left winger put the rebound off iron.

He finished with six shot attempts and a minus-5 rating.

3. Two in-game injuries to Columbus defensemen helped the Flyers’ cause.

The Jackets’ best defender, Werenski (goal, assist in 6:03), was injured in the opening period and did not return. Early in the second period, his teammate, defenseman Erik Gudbranson (plus-2), was also injured as he went into the boards. (He, too, did not return.)

That seemed to set up Columbus for problems. After all, the Jackets entered the night allowing a league-worst 4.58 goals per game.

Sure enough, the Flyers got to within 3-1 as DeAngelo scored on a rebound with about seven minutes left in the second. Ivan Provorov (first goal this season) converted a slick feed from Konecny to make it 3-2 with 11:19 left in regulation.

4. The Flyers’ top line couldn’t stick with Columbus’ No. 1 unit.

Through two periods, the Flyers’ top line — Kevin Hayes centering Tippett and Konecny — didn’t match with the Jackets’ No. 1 unit of Gaudreau, Jenner and Patrik Laine.  The Jackets No. 1 line had a 3-0 advantage against their counterparts in the first 40 minutes.

Left winger Joel Farabee replaced Tippett on the top unit to start the third period.

5. Carter Hart, returning from an illness, gave the Flyers a chance.

Hart denied Emil Bemstrom on a two-on-one while Columbus was on a power play late in the second. He also made some key saves on Gaudreau and his linemates midway through the third.

But it wasn’t enough as Hart (6-1-2) lost in regulation for the first time this season.

Breakaways

Scott Laughton had nine shot attempts (five on goal) and three hits. … The Flyers allowed the first goal for the 10th time in 13 games. … Tortorella has the most wins (227) in Columbus’ history. … The Flyers host Claude Giroux and Ottawa on Saturday afternoon. … Cam Atkinson joined the Flyers at the morning skate, but there is no timetable for his return. He has missed all 13 games because of an unspecified upper-body injury. … Tanner Laczynski, a former Ohio State standout, returned to Columbus as a pro for the first time in his career. … Former Flyer Jake Voracek missed the game with a suspected concussion. … The teams meet again Tuesday in Columbus.

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