Flyers’ Atkinson, Couturier shine in win vs. Oilers

Flyers' Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny celebration.
Philadelphia Flyers’ Sean Walker (26) and Sean Couturier (14) celebrate after a goal by Walker during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Have the Philadelphia Flyers (3-1-0) found their edge?

They’re jumping to early leads and carrying momentum into the following periods. A season ago, that happened less than a handful of times.

“I wasn’t in the locker room last year, but from looking, I feel we’re not panicking when we’re giving up a goal. We’re just coming back and working, rolling four lines; the guys waiting on the bench are matching [up] pretty well out there. Maybe a little more maturity; [the] guys [are] learning, but we seem more in control of games.”

Sean Couturier; 10/19/2023

The Edmonton Oilers (1-3-0) aren’t a slouching franchise. They have two superstars surrounded by a good supporting cast of forwards. However, they couldn’t keep up at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Edmonton Oilers

Rasmus Ristolainen returned to practice but was held out of the lineup, unable to make his season debut with an undisclosed injury. Morgan Frost and Yegor Zamula were healthy scratches, meaning Tyson Foerster and Bobby Brink were in the lineup, and Emil Andrae paired with Nick Seeler.

Jack Campbell was put to the test from the onset. The Flyers were able to get pucks deep into the offensive zone. Nicolas Deslauriers, Ryan Poehling, and Garnet Hathaway threw a physical forecheck, and Foerster picked up the communication with Noah Cates in the neutral and defensive zone. Foerster showed off his development away from the puck, blocking a shot and forcing a takeaway.

Travis Sanheim made an alert pass through the neutral zone to Joel Farabee. An entry on offense allowed Farabee to initiate a give-and-go with Brink. Brink secured his first assist as Farabee scored on an open net with Campbell out of position, 1-0, with 4:10 remaining in the first period. It was the best scoring chance for the Flyers, and Farabee didn’t miss.

Owen Tippett picked the pocket of Evan Bouchard in the offensive zone, finding Cam Atkinson in close on Campbell to extend the Flyers’ lead to 2-0 with 16:06 remaining in the second period.

“It was only a matter of time until he [Tippett] broke out, especially. He’s so highly skilled, especially him playing his off wing. He’s getting more and more comfortable out there. Hopefully we continue to get better, build our chemistry, and build our confidence.”

Cam Atkinson; 10/19/2023

Marc Staal took a nasty spill into the boards with Warren Foegele. Foegele took a shot on goal, slipped, and slid into Staal, crashing momentum into the boards. Staal did not return to the game with an upper-body injury. The Flyers had to play with five defensemen for most of the tilt after Staal exited in the first five minutes of the second period.

In addition to finding the back of the net in the second period, Atkinson was busy on both special team units. On an earlier powerplay, his shooting lane disappeared on Campbell, but Atkinson received the puck in a high-danger area. His stick disrupted the Oilers’ attack on the penalty kill before Seeler completed the clear. He bought the Flyers a lot of time in the second period, one where discipline, or a lack thereof, could spoil the contest.

“I thought we did really good staying disciplined. Coming back and scoring that shorthanded goal right away was important. Got us back on our toes a little bit.”

John Tortorella; 10/19/2023

Zach Hyman put the Oilers on the scoreboard, cutting the Flyers’ lead in half, 2-1. Connor McDavid chipped a saucer pass from the blue line to the goalpost. As the puck was in the air, Cody Ceci deflected it toward Hyman, who finished with a backhand goal with 4:37 remaining in the second period. Then, Atkinson served a penalty for tripping, not helping his bench with the team discipline.

On the patented ‘power-kill,’ Sean Walker scored his first with the Flyers. Similarly to Atkinson on an earlier penalty kill, Couturier disrupted with his stick in the passing lane. Instead of clearing out of the zone, Couturier chopped a quick pass to Walker, who carried through the neutral and into the offensive zone to snipe the net, 3-1, with 1:31 remaining in the second period.

“I think a lot of the things go unnoticed that he [Couturier] does, but the [defensive] zone’s been spectacular; the way he can break up plays, calm things down for us, and he has the offensive ability, too. Everybody’s been super impressed by him; the way he’s come back at battle those last two years. He’s a huge addition and the guys love having him around.”

Sean Walker; 10/19/2023

Foerster didn’t appear on the stat sheet, but he did the little things correctly. Notably, he began to use his frame in more puck battles while engaging more often on the forecheck. Games like these, where a young skater is developing the parts of his game that need the attention, go a long way in earning more ice time from a coach like John Tortorella.

Not only did Atkinson score the game-winner, but he added his second of the game in the third period. Who did he team up with on the goal? You guessed it: Tippett. He took the puck in the neutral zone, found the middle seam, threaded the needle with a pass, and Atkinson finished Campbell one-on-one, 4-1, with 15:43 remaining in regulation.

“I try not to overthink anything; it’s cliche, but not grip my stick too tight. It was a matter of time. The team played great tonight, and we had chances [in] the last couple of games. We knew we wanted to improve on getting pucks to the net and getting chances.”

Owen Tippett; 10/19/2023

Carter Hart notched his third win of the season, saving 22/23 shots on goal. He finished the game off with a glove save to deny Foegele from in close. The Flyers outshot the Oilers, 32-23, but were 0/4 on the powerplay. Philadelphia remained perfect on the penalty kill, 2/2.

Next Up

Next, the Flyers will take on the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center on Saturday. The puck drops at 8pm.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)