PHILADELPHIA – Claude Giroux’s backhanded, blind, stumbling swing at the puck was only supposed to knock it close to the net.
It turned into his 100th career NHL goal—and No. 1 on his highlight reel.
Giroux scored the tying and winning goals 2:08 apart late in the third period, rallying the Philadelphia Flyers past the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4 on Thursday night. He scored two of the Flyers’ five third-period goals and tallied four points as Philadelphia stormed back from a 3-0 hole.
“Sometimes, you don’t get the bounces,” Giroux said, “but we got them this time.”
Giroux landed the biggest one, a no-look attempt from below the circle that got just enough elevation to beat Curtis McElhinney up high with 1:39 left.
“I don’t know what happened. Just trying to get it on net,” Giroux said. “It was in the air, end of the shift so I was a little tired.
“Most of our goals are just shot on net and then go for rebounds. I think we did a good job of getting to the net and getting those rebounds.”
The Flyers captain had tied it with 4:39 left.
Jakub Voracek, Braydon Coburn, Erik Gustafsson also scored for the Flyers.
Steve Mason got the win in his first game against his former team. The Blue Jackets traded Mason to the Flyers, and his strong season has helped keep Philadelphia afloat through its offensive struggles.
“Made this night pretty special,” Mason said. “It’s a difficult game for a goaltender to be a part of something like that, with the goals going in. But there’s nights like these that come along every so often where your team bails you out.”
Cam Atkinson, Jack Skille, Nick Foligno and Blake Comeau had goals for Columbus.
Giroux had no view of the net when he beat McElhinney for the stunning goal. Giroux is starting to come around after a lengthy drought to open the season. He is on a five-game scoring streak, with four goals and 10 points in that stretch.
He has helped push the Flyers into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
“It’s always nice when you can look at it and see your team is in the playoffs,” coach Craig Berube said.
The Flyers snapped their scoreless skid and started their rally with a pair of quick goals to open the third.
Voracek, a former Blue Jackets forward, scored his sixth goal in six games with a wrister from the circle to make it 3-1.
Coburn swiped the puck at the blue line, knocked a low liner toward the net, and the puck one-hopped its way past McElhinney to make it 3-2. The Blue Jackets, in control for 40 minutes, called timeout to regroup and stall Philadelphia’s momentum.
It worked—for a few minutes.
Columbus centre Artem Anisimov hustled for a loose puck off a turnover behind the net and kicked it out to Comeau, who was alone for the nice feed and scored his third goal to make it 4-2.
Gustafsson scored his second of the season with 4:39 left, and Giroux came streaking down the right side and finished off a rush with 3:45 left for the tying goal, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
He was just getting started—and sent the Flyers to their eighth straight home win.
“We sat back too much in the third to protect it,” Columbus defenceman Jack Johnson said. “What you need to do is keep pushing back and stay on them, and we didn’t do that tonight. Hopefully, we can get a positive out of this and learn from that.”
The Flyers were heavily booed off the ice at the end of the second period, and the familiar chants of “E-A-G-L-E-S!” echoed throughout the Wells Fargo Center.
The fans were unhappy with a sloppy end to the second in which Columbus took a 3-0 lead. With only 7.5 seconds left, Johnson cleared the puck from behind the net, and Foligno was there to knock in his 10th goal.
The Flyers recorded only nine shots in the period.
Columbus has been hit hard by injuries, but McElhinney made the early lead stand.
Atkinson opened the scoring midway through the first with a short-handed goal. Voracek was stripped of the puck at Columbus’ blue line, setting up a 2-on-1 for Atkinson to bust loose with his 10th goal.
The Blue Jackets caught the Flyers off-guard against the boards on a shift change, setting up yet another 2-on-1 break. This time, Skille connected from the circle.
Mason had 12 wins and a shutout for the Flyers in his first full season with the franchise. Mason had it all figured out when he went 33-20-7 with 10 shutouts and won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 2008-09, the only season the Blue Jackets made the playoffs.
He posted a goals-against average over 3.00 each of the next three seasons and was out the door upon the emergence of Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky.
NOTES: Voracek has a point in six straight games. … The Flyers are 15-8-4 since a 1-7 start. … The rematch is Saturday in the home-and-home set.