After scoring only one goal Tuesday, the Philadelphia Flyers produced a better offensive performance Friday against the host Anaheim Ducks, winning 6-3, as Sam Ersson made a career-high 35 saves and Travis Sanheim collected three points.
A wide-open contest, the Ducks dominated the run of play for the first five minutes of the first period. Ersson stoned Mason McTavish in tight, and seconds later the Flyers transported the puck up the ice and scored on a rebound. Sean Couturier – the Flyers‘ scoring leader against the Ducks – jammed home a loose puck at the side of the goalmouth to open the scoring.
It was Egor Zamula’s shot that created the rebound, and that was just part of the 23-year-old’s strong outing. A few shifts later, a Zamula stretch pass sprung Garnet Hathaway loose, which resulted in Hathaway drawing a tripping penalty.
Philadelphia Flyers’ Power Play Still Struggling
The Flyers actually had a nice go on their first power play attempt, swinging the puck around in ease and throwing shots through traffic. The rest of their attempts weren’t as nice, and much of the same bad habits set in.
Philadelphia finished 0-3 on the power play, thanks in large part to their inability to enter the zone cleanly and set up. The good news is that the first attempt looked the part, and whatever you do once, you can do twice.
Not long after initial power play opportunity, Sanheim had his shot bank off of Cam Atkinson and into the net to double the Flyers‘ lead. After Louie Belpedio and Leo Carlsson traded goals in the second period, Sanheim’s monster night continued. The 27-year-old took a hard take to the net, cut to his backhand, and neatly tucked the puck for a goal at Lukas Dostal’s far post.
His efforts in both ends were much improved from Tuesday’s loss to the San Jose Sharks. Sanheim (goal, two assists) was noticeable almost every shift, creating something offensively or using his active stick to sniff out danger.
Sanheim became the second Flyers defenseman in the last five years to have two three-point games in a season, per the NHL. He also had four blocked shots in the win and was plus-4.
The defenseman now leads the Philadelphia Flyers with 14 points.
Travis Sanheim (@sanheim17)‼️
Check out the hands on the D-man! pic.twitter.com/o6HpGnnPHY
— NHL (@NHL) November 11, 2023
Atkinson’s goal was his first in 10 days, and fellow winger Owen Tippett broke a four-game point drought with a beautiful backhand-forehand move to convert in tight. Tippett’s first of two goals gave the Flyers a 5-2 lead, and took the pressure off in a moment of the utmost importance.
Ersson entered the game as one of the NHL’s third-worst in GSAA, with a -6.4 mark, per MoneyPuck. The 24-year-old took full advantage of his spot start in place of the ill Carter Hart, stopping a career-high 35 of 38 shots en route to a .921 save percentage. Ersson also saved 1.12 goals above expected, which will bump him up a few places in that regard.
Joel Farabee (plus-3) extrapolated his white-hot form with a two-assist game against the Ducks. The 23-year-old had a career-high 39 points last season, but he figures to smash that with 12 points in 14 games in the early goings of this season. His taking a step forward will be a tremendous revelation for this Flyers team’s long-term plans.
Flyers Need More From Frost
Morgan Frost’s return to the lineup at the expense of Ryan Poehling was a big story heading into this one. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very eventful.
No. 48 did deflect the puck that sent Tippett on his way for the Flyers’ fifth goal, but he also took a retaliatory cross-checking penalty. Head coach John Tortorella is not going to be pleased with that.
In the faceoff circle, Frost was outstanding, winning 12 of 16 draws.
It’s been give-and-take with Frost, and although the assist was nice, the penalty was not. He played just 12:20, which was the third-lowest of any Flyers forward. We’ll see if this affects him for the Los Angeles Kings game tomorrow night.
Carlsson’s Hat Trick Spoiled by Flyers
When the Ducks took Carlsson No. 2 overall in the 2023 NHL Draft, a lot of people were surprised they didn’t call Adam Fantilli’s name. Needless to say, the young Swede is forging his own path.
Carlsson scored his first NHL hat trick against the Philadelphia Flyers, adeptly finishing a host of chances in front of the net. His second goal – a one-timer – was so clean, even Brian Boucher couldn’t believe it. In time, the Flyers will get to experience that themselves with Matvei Michkov.
At any rate, the Flyers put together a much more complete effort compared to just a few nights ago. They’ll need to work on the six penalties they took, and quickly. Ersson got his signature win, Hart should be back any day now, and suddenly things are sunny in Philadelphia. Or California.
Nick Seeler had six of the Flyers’ 21 blocked shots. … Sanheim played 25:14. … In his homecoming, Southern California native Cam York had an assist and was plus-3. … Nick Deslauriers played in his 600th career game. … Tippett became the first Flyer to score two goals in a period this season.