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Blue Jackets bid for home-and-home sweep of Flyers

Apr 5, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Justin Danforth (17) celebrates his goal with center Sean Kuraly (7) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets found ways to lose games over a seven-game stretch before reversing the trend on Tuesday.

Justin Danforth scored the go-ahead goal with 6:44 remaining in the third period to lift visiting Columbus to a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Blue Jackets (33-32-6, 72 points) will now host the Flyers (22-37-11, 55 points) on Thursday to complete a home-and-home series.

“You have to find different ways to score goals in this league and right now that’s kind of the way I’ve been able to produce,” Danforth said. “I keep going to the net and sometimes you get a lucky bounce and kind of finish.”

Great goaltending also helps.

Elvis Merzlikins made 47 saves, including several stellar ones in which he contorted his body and went sprawling to the ice.

“This is one of those games, if he’s not on, we don’t win this game,” Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen said of his goaltender. “There’s no question. He’s got 38 shots on him in two periods, that’s ridiculous. It’s too much, but he stood in there. It’s a 2-2 game and we’re one shot away from getting the lead, which is what happened.”

Carson Meyer scored the first goal of his career and added an assist to help Columbus snap an 0-4-3 stretch. The task now is to try and repeat the feat and sweep the Flyers.

“Obviously that’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Meyer said of his first goal. “It’s something that you dream of forever. Just seeing the puck cross the line was pretty awesome.”

The Flyers will look to rebound from another maddening loss on Thursday.

Philadelphia registered a season-high 49 shots on goal despite going 0-for-4 on the power play.

But the result was only two goals. And another defeat in a lost season.

“We have to keep building on positives,” Flyers interim head coach Mike Yeo said. “The look of the game, the quality of chances we generated, the amount of puck possession we had tonight, those are all positives.”

Another positive was the performance by Noah Cates, who scored his first career goal while playing in his fourth NHL game.

“Obviously, it’s super exciting,” Cates said. “It’s been a lifelong dream to score that goal, and it was pretty big for us. (Patrick Brown) made an awesome play. Obviously, a moment I’ll never forget.”

The same goes for defenseman Ronnie Attard, who registered his first career point after his shot was redirected home by James van Riemsdyk in the second period.

“I’m starting to feel more comfortable every game, but this is a great hockey league,” Attard said. “I just have to continue to learn every game, every shift. It’s nice we have great guys in the locker room who are mentoring us and helping us every day.”

–Field Level Media