Ersson goaltending gem leads Flyers to 4-2 win

Sam Ersson

Barely a week ago he was riding minor league buses and stopping pucks for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Now, after some sensational goaltending in his first three NHL games, Samuel Ersson is making a name for himself on the national stage.

His latest performance, an electrifying effort against the Kings at Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon, might have people running for online media outlets to find out about this unheralded Swede.

Ersson led the Flyers to a 4-2 win over the Kings. Noah Cates scored shorthanded at 13:01 of the third period for the winning goal.

The Flyers won their second consecutive game, the first time they have put two wins together in 25 games (Nov. 5-8).

Loa Angeles had a seven-game (6-0-1) point streak ended.

Ersson, who stopped 27 of 29 shots, recorded his second win. He also was in goal for a 4-3 win over San Jose on Thursday and played well in the third period of a Dec. 23 game at Carolina. Regular starter Carter Hart, who suffered a concussion in the Carolina game, was set to clear protocol but did not play. Felix Sandstrom was the backup.

Time after time, Ersson turned aside quality Los Angeles scoring chances.

“Obviously a tough start in the first (allowing two goals),’’ Ersson said after the game. “I thought the team played good and I managed to come up with some big saves in the third. It always feels good to contribute.

“It (the NHL) is definitely a step up from the AHL. It’s taken a couple games but I feel like I’m getting better, adjusting. At the end of the day, it’s the wins that count and getting two in a row feels really good.’’

Coach John Tortorella, not exactly generous with platitudes, was effusive with his praise of Ersson.

“He’s very calm,’’ the coach said. “From the Carolina game, there was a little bit of a struggle, take him out, put him back in. . .I think he’s shown in his mind as far as handling himself in a very important position for this team. Good for him. He’s played very well.’’

For the Flyers, it was an uphill battle through the first two periods. But they were game for the challenge, rallying from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits.

Scott Laughton pulled the Flyers even the first time. With the Flyers on a power play, Laughton shot from the right circle and sent the puck past goaltender Jonathan Quick at 12:15.

It was Laughton’s third power-play goal of the season. In his previous nine NHL seasons, Laughton had never scored with the Flyers up a man.

“We battled,’’ Laughton said. “Big shorthanded goal at the end of the game. We just found a way and that’s something we have to continue to do. We have to continue to play our game, grind, That’s a big goal for him (Cates).’’

The Kings went up again as Phil Danault took advantage of Tony DeAngelo’s giveaway in the Flyers’ zone. Danault sent a slap shot off the rush into the net at 13:12.

After that goal, Ersson made 20 consecutive saves.

Not fazed by the Kings’ strong play, the Flyers came back in the second period on a goal from Owen Tippett. With an assist from DeAngelo, Tippett deked his way past defenseman Kevin Fiala and fired a high shot home at 9:02.

“Tony made a great play getting it down to me,’’ Tippett said at the second intermission. “Had a little bit of room and ‘Riemer’ (James van Riemsdyk) made a good screen in front. I just had to put it on net.’’

Cates connected on a shot from the blue line through a Patrick Brown screen for the deciding goal. The Flyers have seven shorthanded goals, which put them in a tie for the NHL lead.

Travis Konecny scored an empty-net goal with 26.6 seconds to play for an insurance goal.

Los Angeles made the most of a five-on-three power play to score its first goal. Adrian Kempe scored at 9:46 of the opening period.

Tippett is playing his best hockey of the season. Tortorella cited his work at both ends of the ice.

“Our energy stayed high,’’ said Tippett, referring to the two times the Flyers fell behind. “We knew if we kept our energy we were going to be all right.’’


>Short shots


The three-game West Coast road trip concludes Monday in Anaheim. . .Travis Konecny entered the game with multiple points in four straight games, the first Flyer to accomplish that since Sean Couturier. . .Laughton has eight goals in the 33 games he has played. He’s on pace to handily eclipse his career-high of 13. . .The Flyers announced they have signed defenseman Ethan Samson to an entry-level contract. Samson was a sixth-round pick in the 2021 draft. . .The Kings had a four-game home game win streak ended.

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About Wayne Fish 2443 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.