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Flyers, Sam Ersson Snap Losing Streak, Beat Panthers, 2-1

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The Philadelphia Flyers, led by Sam Ersson and Noah Cates, defeated the Florida Panthers, 2-1, in a playoff atmosphere-type game on Tuesday. (Photo: AP)

The Philadelphia Flyers, led by rookie goaltender Sam Ersson and his 20 saves, came back from a one-goal deficit to beat the Florida Panthers, 2-1, at Amerant Bank Arena on Tuesday night.

Coming into this matchup, the Flyers had lost each of their last five games. Prior to that, the team had won five in a row. Such is life in the NHL.

Ersson spurs Flyers on to victory

Ersson, making his seventh consecutive appearance for the Flyers, made 20 saves on 21 shots to earn the Flyers a much-needed win. Per Moneypuck, the 24-year-old stopped 1.33 goals above expected.

Carter Verhaeghe beat Ersson on the power play to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead after Ersson was slow getting across the crease. That was about as much bad as you could say about Ersson in this one; he was excellent for the Flyers.

Slow start, strong finish

The Flyers were stuck in second gear for nearly all of the first period, and head coach John Tortorella was visibly frustrated behind the bench at one point. After Verhaeghe scored a cheap one to give Florida the lead, you had to be a little concerned, given the context of the now-snapped five-game losing streak.

Tortorella instead got the boys to dial in.

NHL All-Star Travis Konecny got the Flyers on the board late in the second, cashing in on a world-class setup from Joel Farabee. At the time of his assist Farabee tied Connor McDavid – yes, that Connor McDavid – for third in the NHL in points at 5-on-5.

Aside from the Flyers as a whole, Noah Cates is a player who had a slow start to the 2023-24 season, and now appears poised for a strong finish.

Cates had only one goal in 28 games coming into Tuesday night, with just four assists to supplement that. The 25-year-old is back from his broken foot, had the All-Star break to catch his bearings, and scored the game-winning goal in a crucial playoff atmosphere-type game with his second tally of the year. His strong take to the net to score on Anthony Stolarz was something to behold.

If the Flyers are getting back the Cates who scored 13 goals (five game-winners) and 38 points last season, he will be the revelation of the final stretch of this season. The argument could be made that the true revelation is Ersson, but we already know how good he is.

That five-game losing streak where his numbers dipped were a mirage; the whole team played poorly.

Flyers get Owen Tippett back

Owen Tippett was activated from injured reserve not long before puck drop, officially ending his four-game absence. The 24-year-old also played in his first game since inking that shiny new eight-year, $49.2 million extension with the Flyers on Jan. 26.

Tippett played 17:52 in his return to game action – third only to fellow signee Ryan Poehling, who played 18:46, and Konecny, who played a whopping 22:10. Tippett also rang off three shots on goal and took a potentially dangerous boarding penalty late in the third period.

It was a mixed bag for Tippett, but most of the performances on Tuesday night for Philadelphia were ‘fine’. The Panthers are an excellent team, and both sides checked extremely tightly. This was not the most wide-open game you’ll ever see.

As for the Flyers, this was a crucial victory in the standings. With the Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, and New Jersey Devils all on tap in the next two weeks, this felt like a must-win. They passed the test with flying colors.

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