PHILADELPHIA – Don’t get in a shootout with Sam Ersson.
The Flyers’ goaltender won his third straight shootout on Thursday night in a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals.
Philadelphia rallied late, then won the shootout on goals by Sean Couturier and Bobby Brink. Ersson gave up only one goal in the shootout and now has stopped all but one of 10 shootout attempts this season.
Just when it looked like the Flyers might go home without a point, Owen Tippett came to the rescue.
The right wing scored with 2:59 to play in regulation time to get the Flyers even at 3-3.
Coming off a 2-0-1 road trip, the Flyers returned to the Wells Fargo Center and had their hands full with Metropolitan Division rival Washington.
Washington scored a go-ahead goal by Dylan Strome at 9:05 of the third period when he broke a 2-2 tie.
But Tippett used a Travis Sanheim screen with 2:59 to play to tie the score again.
Ersson was coming off a tough overtime loss just 18 seconds into overtime on Tuesday night at Nashville. He thought he was getting Thursday night off but No. 1 starter Carter Hart fell ill and a change had to be made.
“Obviously a tough ending, when that puck goes in,” Ersson said of the Nashville game. “It’s one I would like back. Things like that are going to happen. You have to move on. I think it’s part of being a goalie. Obviously nice to get back in there and obviously nice to get the W.”
The Flyers were 0-7-3 when trailing after two periods but ended that jinx.
“It’s nice we tied the game,” Ersson said. “Hockey is like that. It’s a game of mistakes. Things like that happen. Coming back and getting the W (Thursday night) is huge.”
Coach John Tortorella liked the way his team bounced back twice in the third period.
“We find a way to score a couple goals (in the third period,” Tortorella said. “We tie it a couple times. It’s a good win for us because we need to try to win those games. You’re not always going to be perfect. We’re playing pretty consistent hockey. Had to win a different way tonight and we did.”
The coach also appreciated the way Ersson composed himself after the loss to the Predators.
“He just keeps getting better,” said Tortorella as Ersson raised his season mark to 6-3-2. “He made key saves at key times for us. Our goaltending has been good. It’s given us a chance every night.”
Trailing, 2-1, early in the third period, the Flyers gained a tie when Joel Farabee circled out from behind the net and swept a shot under goalie Charlie Lindgren at 5:25.
“It was just one of those games where mentally you had to get over some hurdles,” Farabee said. “I really liked our battle. ‘Tip’ gets that big goal and then ‘Ers’ shuts it down in the shootout.
“It’s a big win especially coming out not playing the way we wanted. I felt the crowd was really into it tonight. It’s a huge win for us.”
Penalty killing, the Flyers’ strong suit of late, let them down late in the second period when Washington’s Tom Wilson scored with the extra man for a 2-1 lead.
With Scott Laughton in the penalty box, Washington set up shop in front of Ersson, filling in for Carter Hart, who was scratched due to illness.
Strome’s pass found its way through Sanheim’s skates and all Wilson had to do was lift it into the net at 15:29.
The Flyers entered the game having killed off 43 of their last 45 penalties.
The Flyers picked up the first goal of the game and that was encouraging for the home team.
Brink was stationed at the left post and backhanded the rebound of Marc Staal’s shot over Lindgren at 2:14 of the second.
Washington struck back just 46 seconds later.
Connor McMichael was left alone in front and he poked in a pass from the left corner to tie it at 1-1.
Ersson entered the game having secured at least a point (4-0-1) since Nov. 10.
There wasn’t much in the way of scoring chances in the first period. The Flyers had only three shots on net. Washington had seven but Ersson was up to the task on all of them.
Philadelphia has registered at least a point in seven straight games. The team is 14-1 when scoring the first goal of the game.
Tortorella coached his 1,494th career NHL game, meaning he needs only six more games to become only the eighth NHL head coach to reach 1,500. He now has 720 NHL wins, just two behind ex-Flyers coach Alain Vigneault for 10th place in NHL history.