Many fans wore Halloween costumes to Saturday’s matinee at the Wells Fargo Center.
But instead of a treat, the fans and the Philadelphia Flyers got (hat-)tricked by an Anaheim left winger, Frank Vatrano, who came disguised as the second coming of Bill Barber.
Vatrano scored three goals — he has eight in the young season — as the Ducks whipped the mistake-prone Flyers, 7-4.
The Flyers slipped to 4-3-1, and they are now 3-1 at home this season. Anaheim, coming off an upset win over previously undefeated Boston, evened its record at 4-4.
Blistering left winger Travis Konecny paced the Flyers with a pair of goals, his seventh and eighth in eight games. But he dwelled on a third-period turnover he committed that led to a power-play goal that gave Anaheim a 5-2 lead.
“We have to forget that one and move on,” he said about the loss.
Here are five observations:
1. Backup Sam Ersson needs to give the Flyers much better goaltending.
Carter Hart (2.18 GAA, .924 save percentage) is off to a strong start. Ersson (5.91, .760) is not.
Given a surprise start Saturday, Ersson allowed four goals on the first 12 shots, including a juicy rebound that Ryan Strome deposited 58 seconds into the game. A Travis Sanheim turnover put the play in motion.
Ersson has not been sharp in his only two starts of the season — the first being a 5-4 overtime loss in Dallas, a game in which he started slowly before playing better in the second half of the contest.
He stopped just 17 of 25 shots Saturday, and you might see Felix Sandstrom get a start when Hart is rested again.
Ersson, 23, was hard on himself after the game, saying the fact he doesn’t play much is “not really an excuse” and he needs to be better.
He said he was “very disappointed in myself. This is just not up to my standards. … It’s up to me to be prepared, and when I get a chance, I have to be able to deliver.”
“Don’t blame Sam for this,” coach John Tortorella said. “He’s part of it, but it’s easy to look at the goaltender and throw it all at him. Not a chance. That’s a team effort.”
The Flyers outshot the Ducks in the first period, 11-8, and won 62% of the faceoffs. Yet, they found themselves in a 2-0 hole.
They never climbed out of it.
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) October 28, 2023
2. The Flyers’ penalty kill had its streak snapped.
In the previous five games, the Flyers were 13 for 13 on the penalty kill — and they were 14 for 14 if you go back to the third period of their Oct. 14 game in Ottawa. That streak ended on the Ducks’ first power-play chance as an all-alone Vatrano beat Errson from the high slot, giving the visitors a 2-0 lead with 4:40 left in the first.
In the second period, Anaheim’s lead grew to 4-0 as Ersson failed to get to the short side quick enough and Vatrano knocked in his second goal of the game, and Adam Henrique later scored on a rebound.
All told, the Ducks were 2 for 2 on the power play.
3. Cam Atkinson continued to look like his old self.
The 34-year-old winger finished off an odd-man rush as he tapped in Owen Tippett’s feed to get the Flyers within 4-1 with 8:11 remaining in the second. For Atkinson, who missed last season because of neck surgery, it was his fifth goal in eight games.
Just 46 seconds after Atkinson’s goal, Konecny scored off the rush, beating Lukas Dostal from the right circle after taking a nice feed from Sean Walker.
That cut the lead to 4-2 and got the fans back into the game.
For a while, anyway.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 28, 2023
4. Defenseman Travis Sanheim struggled mightily.
After scoring a goal and adding two assists to help the Flyers defeat Minnesota on Thursday, 6-2, Sanheim took a step backward. He had problems handling the puck, had no points and was minus-3.
5. Sloppy play put the game out of reach
A miscue by Konecny led to Trevor Zegras’ power-play goal, giving Anaheim a 5-2 lead with 17:18 left. Thirty-two seconds later, sloppy play allowed Brett Leason to score from the side of the net.
The Ducks were coasting, and Ersson received sarcastic cheers as he made an easy save with about 15 minutes to go. He received more mocking cheers a bit later.
“What Sam had to go through there with the Bronx cheers out there is bullshit,” Tortorella said. “The game does not fall on one guy. It belongs to all of us.”
Tortorella predicted Ersson would “bounce back. He just has that mentality.”
Vatrano completed his fifth career hat trick — and second this season — by scoring on a shorthanded breakaway with about nine minutes remaining. … Zegras’ goal was his first of the season. … The Flyers outshot the Ducks, 31-25, and Philly won 62% of the faceoffs. … Anaheim was 2 for 2 on the power play, while the Flyers were 1 for 4 with an extra skater. … Morgan Frost was benched for the sixth straight game. … Former PR director Zack Hill was honored before the game, and the Zack Hill Media Center was unveiled. … The Flyers host Carolina on Monday.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) October 28, 2023