The Kids Are All Right: Allison, Ersson lead Flyers to 4-3 win over Flames
CALGARY — Improving his record to a perfect 6-0-0 to begin his NHL career, Flyer goaltender Samuel Ersson has joined an exclusive club.
Ersson made 33 saves and fellow rookie Wade Allison scored the game-winner on Monday afternoon as the Philadelphia Flyers edged the Calgary Flames 4-3.
Ersson is the eighth goaltender in NHL history to start his career 6-0-0. He joins Martin Jones (8-0-0), Viktor Fasth (8-0-0), Bob Froese (8-0-0), Wayne Thomas (7-0-0), Frederik Andersen (6-0-0), Ken Dryden (6-0-0) and Frank McCool (6-0-0).
“It's fun, it's special, but I'm just trying to make my spot here on the team,” said the 23-year-old Ersson, who was a fifth-round pick of the Flyers in 2018. “Every game is huge for me here. I really have to focus on taking it game by game."
Ersson is one of three goalies with the club right now and is battling Felix Sandstrom for playing time behind starter Carter Hart.
“Really happy for him to get that win because he played a hell of a game," said Flyers centre Scott Laughton. “He's very steady back there, a guy you want to play in front of.”
Calgary had plenty of dangerous chances in a first period in which they outshot the visitors 12-10, but couldn't beat Ersson, who was making his first start since Jan. 17.
Ersson stopped Mikael Backlund from the slot, stabbed out his blocker to deny Jakob Pelletier's dangerous one-timer, robbed Andrew Mangiapane on a power play, and sprawled across the crease to deny Jonathan Huberdeau on a 2-on-0.
“I got into it pretty early there. Got to feel the puck. That's nice as a goalie to get into the game as soon as possible, especially not playing for a little bit," Ersson said.
Down 3-1 to start the third period, Calgary got it back to 3-3 on goals by Toffoli at 4:38 and Mangiapane at 8:54, but the Flyers regained the lead at 11:33 when James Van Riemsdyk got free in the slot and set up Allison at the far post for his eighth goal.
"Big goal for us. We were bending a little bit but we didn't break,” said Flyers coach John Tortorella. “Anytime when you're up in the third, the tendency is to sit back a little bit or the other team pushes a little bit more. We found a way. We closed it off in the middle of the ice and blocked a lot of shots."
Travis Konecny, who later left the game with an injury, and Tony DeAngelo, each had a goal and an assist for Philadelphia (23-25-10), which snapped a three-game losing streak.
Backlund and Mangiapane each had a goal and assist for Calgary (26-20-11) while Tyler Toffoli notched his team-leading 23rd.
The Flames remain two points back of Minnesota, which occupies the second wild-card berth in the Western Conference. The Wild has played one less game.
“We believe in each other and we're going to keep grinding and we're gonna keep giving our best,” said Backlund. “We're not gonna give up, we're gonna keep pushing ourselves here to get to where we want to be.”
Philadelphia scored first at 16:59 when Konecny broke down the left wing, cut inside to sidestep the backcheck of Noah Hanifin, and beat Jacob Markstrom blocker side from 25 feet out.
The Flyers made it 2-0 at 7:30 of the second when Cam York hopped out of the penalty box to grab a loose puck at centre and seconds later on a 2-on-1, with Hanifin unable to get back in the play, York's centring pass to Deslauriers was deflected in.
“We're gonna have to really buckle down here the last month-and-a-half or so and string together some wins,” said Hanifin. “When we play the way we know we can play, we know we're a good hockey team in here. It's just about coming together and making sure we're doing that consistently and holding each other up to that standard.”
Ninety seconds after Backlund cut the deficit to one, Philadelphia restored its two-goal cushion at 11:31 when DeAngelo's wrist shot from 40 feet out beat Markstrom over his glove.
“We haven't really gotten hot this year. We've had a couple of streaks, but not really long ones,” said Mangiapane. “So I think we're due and we're playing the right way.”
The struggles continue for Markstrom, who had 18 stops. A finalist last season for the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender, Markstrom has a 15-14-7 record and has not won consecutive starts since mid-December.
Elias Lindholm returned to his spot as centre on the Flames' No. 1 line after missing last game due to the birth of his first child, a boy. Adam Ruzicka, his replacement last game, stayed in the lineup and centred the fourth line.
With Michael Stone spotted wearing a walking boot and entering the Saddledome on crutches, Dennis Gilbert drew into the Flames lineup on the third D pairing with Nikita Zadorov and made his presence felt immediately with a heavy hit on Deslauriers followed up by a fight with Nick Seeler.
Flyers: Wrap up a four-game road trip against Edmonton on Tuesday.
Flames: Hit the road for their next three games starting Wednesday in Arizona.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 20, 2023.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press