Searching for every point possible over the rest of the season, the rest seemed to benefit the Flyers.
“Just the grind of the January month caught up to us. If that’s an excuse, so be it. Not now, this is a sprint now. We got 32 games, this is a sprint and we should be refreshed and ready to go and play our game.”John Tortorella; 2/5/2024
Here’s how it all took place in Sunrise, FL:
Flyers at Panthers
In the first period, it looked as if the Flyers were still on the NHL All-Star Break. If not for Sam Ersson, they would’ve trailed by even more.
From the jump, the Panthers forecheck went to work and the Flyers couldn’t keep up. Carter Verhaeghe ripped a shot past Ersson on the powerplay with Nick Seeler in the box. Florida led, 1-0, with 10:38 remaining in the first period.
Travis Konecny equalized the game, 1-1, with 6:27 remaining in the second period. He scored his 23rd of the season, finishing a breakaway opportunity with a chip shot past Anthony Stolarz. Sean Walker got the puck out of the defensive zone to Joel Farabee, who set the primary assist to Konecny.
After the second period, Konecny got chippy with Sam Bennett, Matthew Tkachuk, and Gustav Forsling. Konecny and Forsling wound up in the box, creating a four-on-four situation to start the third period.
Noah Cates gave the Flyers their first lead. He snapped a 22-game goalscoring drought, scoring his second of the season. Cates capitalized on an errant pass, slicing through the offensive zone, and tucking the game-winner past Stolarz, 2-1.
Ersson remained resilient throughout the remainder of the regulation time. The Panthers gained momentum in the dying stages, but Ersson closed the door on each shot, putting the Flyers back in the win column.
Cates Ends the Drought
His second of the season broke a 22-game goalscoring drought. Albeit, he’s not a goalscorer, Cates can flash offense at times. While he did miss significant time due to a broken foot, Cates struggled before that.
Scoring the game-winner could set a trajectory for a strong back end of the season. Cates is vital if the Flyers plan to make a playoff push.
Rebound for Ersson
There is a lot of pressure on Ersson. He lost four straight games, pulled most recently versus the Boston Bruins. The NHL All-Star Break served as a reset before facing an elite offense. Ersson was the source of the Flyers’ swagger.
He saved 20/21 shots on goal. Ersson was locked in and remained sharp after surrendering the powerplay goal by Verhaeghe. The win serves as a strong base to build more confidence as the season rolls.
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers host the Winnipeg Jets at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday at 7pm.
(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)