Ersson, Konecny exit, but Flyers score flurry of goals to upend a top team again

Ersson, Konecny exit, but Flyers score flurry of goals to upend a top team again originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Flyers picked up another prove-it win with a 4-1 decision Thursday night over the Canucks in Vancouver, British Columbia.

And they were able to do so despite losing Samuel Ersson and Travis Konecny early in the third period.

The Flyers took the air out of Rogers Arena by flipping a scoreless game into a commanding lead during the final five minutes of the second period.

Carter Hart and the penalty kill helped them close the door in the final stanza.

After having five days between games because of the NHL-mandated holiday break, the upstart Flyers (19-11-4) showed little rust. They improved to 8-1-3 over their last 12 games and own a league-best points percentage of .738 since Nov. 10 (14-4-3).

The Flyers swept their two-game regular-season series with the Canucks (23-10-3). So far, they’ve been the only team to shut out Vancouver — a 2-0 decision back in their home opener.

The Canucks, coached by Flyers Hall of Famer Rick Tocchet, are in a three-way tie for the NHL’s most points (49) and have scored a league-high 3.78 goals per game. The Flyers definitely opened eyes by holding Vancouver to just one goal in two meetings.

Flyers are 8-1-3 in their last 12 games and 19-11-4 overall.

They now have five wins over top-10 clubs:

Beat Canucks, 2-0.
Beat Canucks, 4-1.
Beat Golden Knights, 4-3, in OT.
Beat Avalanche, 5-2.
Beat Kings, 4-2.

— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) December 29, 2023

• The overwhelming positive for John Tortorella’s club Thursday night was that Konecny and Ersson appear to be OK.

Konecny, the team’s heartbeat and leading scorer, was last on the ice a little over three minutes into the third period. According to The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz, Tortorella told reporters in Vancouver that Konecny was battling an illness.

Ersson’s departure was because of dehydration, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia broadcasters Jim Jackson and Brian Boucher.

• In their home opener Oct. 17, the Flyers completely dictated the second period by outshooting the Canucks 22-3.

They stunned Vancouver again in the second period, this time by ripping off three goals over a span of just 2:06 minutes. Egor Zamula, Sean Walker and Joel Farabee gave the Flyers a 3-0 lead at second intermission.

Tippett made an excellent play to set up Walker’s 2-0 marker.

Bobby Brink was disruptive in the neutral zone to spring Farabee for the Flyers’ third goal. The two young forwards have developed promising chemistry.

The middle stanza was particularly impressive for the Flyers considering it has been a period the Canucks have dominated this season. Vancouver came in with a league-best plus-26 goal differential in the second period, but the Flyers capitalized on a penalty and the Canucks opening up a little bit.

• Returning from the holiday break with a back-to-back set, the Flyers gave Ersson the nod in net for Game 1.

Hart has battled an undisclosed illness, which has resulted in the 25-year-old losing weight and making just one start over the previous 18 days. Perhaps the Flyers didn’t feel it was a great time to have Hart face the NHL’s top offensive team. And the Flyers also have a ton of confidence in Ersson, who improved to 9-2-1 over his last 12 starts.

The 24-year-old made 18 saves on 19 shots. He had to exit 2:36 minutes into the third period. Vancouver trimmed the Flyers’ lead to 3-1 just 25 seconds into the period.

Hart was strong in relief, stopping all eight shots he faced, a number of them from high-danger areas. On the season, he has a 2.57 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

Cam Atkinson had talked about needing to make an impact even in a lengthy goal-scoring drought.

The winger made a key defensive play to deny a potential goal in the first period. He also stood up for Farabee in the third period when he jumped Noah Juulsen after the Canucks’ defenseman delivered a big hit.

Atkinson’s decision put the Flyers on the penalty kill, but Ryan Poehling quickly made up for it. The 24-year-old center was aggressive off a draw and set up Garnet Hathaway for a shorthanded goal as the Flyers regained their three-goal cushion at 4-1.

• Zamula, promoted to the second power play unit, scored the game-opening goal on the man advantage. He recorded a plus-2 rating in 18 minutes.

The 23-year-old has been in a mini rotation with veteran Marc Staal. One would think Zamula’s last two games — one goal, two assists, plus-3 rating — have earned him the next game.

Having Zamula and Cam York run their power play units is a good sign that the Flyers are still making rebuilding type of decisions. They are the team’s youngest blueliners and the Flyers need to make sure the development of those two is not being lost in the focus of winning.

• The Flyers are right back at it Friday when they visit the Kraken (10 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

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