Flyers top Detroit, point streak hits eight

Sam Ersson

      PHILADELPHIA – At this rate, Sam Ersson will find it hard to go back to the bench when No. 1 goaltender Carter Hart gets completely well again.

      Hart has missed the last couple starts due to illness and Ersson has stepped into the breach quite nicely, first with a 4-3 shootout win in Nashville on Thursday night and again on Saturday night in a tidy 1-0 victory over Detroit at the Wells Fargo Center.

      Ersson stopped all 34 Detroit shots and ran his record to 7-3-2 as the Flyers made it eight straight games with a point (7-0-1). With the win, the Flyers moved back into second place in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 17-10-3.

      Because it’s “family” week for the Flyers, the entire Ersson family was in attendance for this game. Coming over from Sweden were his father, Hans; his mother, Lena; his brothers, Axel and Marcus; his sisters Lisbet and Kirstin, and his girlfriend, Olivia.

      The Flyers’ defense, which was missing Travis Sanheim (illness), did a good job of keeping Red Wing snipers from getting quality shots. The Flyers blocked 20 in all by 11 different players.

      “The willingness to block shots is absolutely outstanding on this team,” Ersson said. “I would say it’s a big part of how we play. The penalty klll and five-on-five, it’s a big reason why we have success.”

      Added coach John Tortorella: “I think it really helps the camaraderie when you see people do that. It’s part of how we have to play. Everybody knows they need to block shots. In that situation (at the end of the game), it’s just absolute desperation. It’s good when you succeed.”

      Detroit was pressing for the tying goal in the closing minutes but the Flyers would have none of it. Clearly, the position players wanted Ersson to get that shutout, just as they did a couple Saturdays ago on Long Island.

      “We care about each other in this room,” Ersson agreed. “We care about each other’s success as a group but also as individuals. It’s special, it’s the first time my family got to see me play in the NHL (including the Nashville game). So it was definitely huge to be able to get the shutout.”

      Scoring the first goal of a game might seem somewhat important to a lot of NHL teams but for the Flyers it’s almost mandatory.

      Entering Saturday night’s game, the Flyers were 14-1 when they scored first and just 2-9-3 when an opponent did.

      So when Philadelphia connected to take an early lead, it was a pretty good omen. The eight-game point streak is the longest since a nine-game (9-0-0) streak of at least one point back in February-March of 2020.

      The initial goal was scored by the Flyers’ Cam York in the first period on what amounted to a fortunate bounce.

      York rushed the zone, skated down along the outside of the left circle and appeared to attempt to pass to Sean Couturier in front. But the puck hit the stick of Detroit’s J.T. Compher, took an odd bounce and popped past goaltender Alex Lyon at 6:21.

      The Flyers didn’t seem to miss Sanheim all that much. York played one of his best games.

      “I don’t think they had a ton of chances,” York noted. “Honestly, I think it was just another game for me. I feel like we’re a team that can win 6-5 or 1-0. It’s something that’s really important to do. It’s something that we didn’t do great last year.”

      Although the second period finished scoreless, both teams had their share of chances.

      At the 6:50 mark of the second period, Lyon, an ex-Flyer netminder, came up with a save on a charging Owen Tippett, but then crumpled to the ice. After several minutes, he skated to the Detroit locker room and was replaced by Ville Husso.

      This kind of game appeals to Tortorella because very few mistakes were made.

      “Even though it was a 1-0 game, I thought we were in control through it all,” he said. “And ‘Ers’ (Ersson) made some saves, came up really big at the end. That third period, I thought we did a really good job defending and banging around. You win a game another way.”

     >Poehling strong on faceoffs

     Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson played on a line with center Ryan Poehling. Poehling was winning his share of faceoffs, something Farabee said he could appreciate.

      “Really good on faceoffs,” Farabee said. “So that’s big. Anytime you can start with the puck, that’s huge. You know, he’s one of the faster guys in the league, too. So I really feel like our line has a lot of speed. We make a lot of plays together and you keep building off that.”

      >Short shots

      Seeler began the night in 10th place in the NHL plus-minus stats at plus-14. . .The Flyers resume action on Tuesday night when they visit the New Jersey Devils. . .Tyson Foerster entered play with three power-play goals, tied for the lead among NHL rookies. Bobby Brink was tied for second with two. . .Detroit’s Robby Fabbri was sandwiched against the boards in the third period by York and Rasmus Ristolainen, suffered a head cut and had to leave the game.

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About Wayne Fish 2451 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.