PHILADELPHIA — The Flyers got an offensive lift from a surprising source.
Radko Gudas scored one of his two goals from 91 feet and added two assists, and Steve Mason made 19 saves in his return to the net in the Philadelphia Flyers‘ 6-0 rout of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
Gudas entered with six points this season before recording four against the Blue Jackets. Both the goals and points were single-game career highs for the defenceman.
“We’ve been waiting for it all year,” joked Flyers coach Dave Hakstol of Gudas’ offence.
Added Gudas: “Obviously it’s something I’ve never done before, so it’s a great feeling.”
Michael Raffl, Claude Giroux, Sam Gagner and Nick Cousins also scored for the Flyers, who moved within three points of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia improved to 4-1 on a six-game homestand that culminates with Monday night’s game against Tampa Bay.
The Blue Jackets, playing the second game of a back-to-back that began with Friday’s 6-3 home win over Edmonton, allowed a goal on the Flyers’ first shot and never recovered.
“Just one of those games,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “We’re not going to look at the tape. I’ve already told the other coaches to throw it away.”
A healthy Mason watched from the bench as backup Michal Neuvirth made the last five starts and seven of eight. But Hakstol went back to Mason after Philadelphia’s 4-0 loss to Edmonton on Thursday. He earned his fourth shutout of the season and 30th of his career.
“He was pretty sharp,” Hakstol said.
Mason’s best stop may have been his first save, when he denied Nick Foligno just 50 seconds into the contest.
The Flyers’ offence took it from there.
Raffl deflected Gudas’ attempt from the point past Curtis McElhinney on Philadelphia’s first shot on goal, giving the Flyers a one-goal lead 3:40 into the contest.
Gudas netted his first goal in 66 games when his slap shot from just over the red line got past McElhinney. It was just the eighth goal in 184 career games for the Flyers defenceman.
“I’m not going to say I was expecting it to go in, but I’m glad it did and it was a great feeling,” Gudas said.
Gudas assisted on Gagner’s tally with 2:47 left in the second period that made it 3-0. Gagner raced down the right wing and drilled a slap shot over McElhinney’s left shoulder. And Giroux netted his 18th of the season just 10 seconds later when his one-timer from the slot after a pass from Wayne Simmonds beat McElhinney.
McElhinney made 30 saves, dropping to 2-7-3 in 18 games this season. Columbus has been without top goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (lower body injury) since Jan. 21, and coach John Tortorella turned to McElhinney after rookie Joonas Korpisalo started four straight games.
Tortorella didn’t place blame for the loss on his goalie.
“(McElhinney) made some good saves, too,” he said. “I don’t think we played that well in front of him. Everybody has to give some skin tonight, from the coaches right on through to the team. We did not have a good game – anybody.”
Cousins’ tally midway through the third period put Philadelphia ahead 5-0. The on-ice officials ruled it wasn’t a goal, but it was overturned after a video review showed the puck just crossed the line.
And Gudas notched his second of the game 24 seconds later when his simple dump toward the net hit McElhinney’s pad before caroming off Blue Jackets defenceman Ryan Murray‘s skate and in.
It was a forgettable evening for the Blue Jackets.
“I hate using this word because I don’t think our team is like that,” Foligno said, “but we were just soft tonight, soft in a lot of things.”
NOTES: Flyers RW Jakub Voracek (lower body) missed his third straight game. … Columbus LW Brandon Saad (upper body) didn’t make the trip to Philadelphia after getting injured against the Oilers on Friday. Saad leads the Blue Jackets with 24 goals. … Columbus returns to the ice Tuesday night when it opens a five-game homestand against Detroit. … Philadelphia snapped a five-game losing streak to Columbus while winning its first in three matchups this season.