Atkinson ends drought, Ersson shines and Flyers grab another signature win

Atkinson ends drought, Ersson shines and Flyers grab another signature win originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Cam Atkinson chucked the monkey off his back Saturday night to lead the Flyers to a validating, 2-0 win over the Jets at Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The veteran winger put his 26-game goal-scoring slump to rest by scoring both of the Flyers' markers.

Samuel Ersson was superb in net, pitching his third shutout of the season.

This was a tall order for the Flyers (23-14-6), who were without first-line center Sean Couturier (minor injury) and recent trade acquisition Jamie Drysdale (illness). They also played the night before in St. Paul, Minnesota while the Jets, the NHL's top club, waited for them to arrive.

And the Flyers still found a way to blank Winnipeg.

John Tortorella's club has won three straight and the first two games of a challenging three-game road trip.

The Jets (28-10-4) came in with a league-leading 60 points, eight straight wins and a 14-game point streak (12-0-2).

Winnipeg was also shorthanded, missing leading scorer Mark Scheifele (lower body) and leading goal scorer Kyle Connor (knee).

The Flyers see the Jets again Feb. 8 in Philadelphia to wrap up the two-game regular-season series.

• It's over halfway through the season and the Flyers are still picking up signature wins.

They still hold a playoff spot in a loaded race.

If they stay mostly healthy, it's really starting to look like they can make something of this season, one that was originally viewed as a rebuilding campaign.

The Flyers have six wins over top-10 clubs. Against the Canucks and Jets, the top two teams in the league, the Flyers have gone 3-0-0 by a combined score of 8-1.

They're currently a top-10 team, as well, with the 10th-most points.

• Winnipeg entered allowing a league-low 2.29 goals per game. So, of course Atkinson snapped his funk against the stingiest defensive club in the NHL and did so by scoring not one, but two goals.

Hockey is a funny game.

"I've always been a streaky goal scorer," the 34-year-old said last month, "so once I get one, I get the confidence and I seem to score in bunches."

Atkinson unloaded a huge pump of the fist when he scored the game-opening goal in the first period.

Then, under three minutes into the second period, Atkinson struck again, this time on the power play.

"Once I start putting the puck in the net, everyone's going to stop talking," Atkinson said eight days ago after being benched for a game by Tortorella.

The Flyers went into second intermission with that 2-0 lead.

Their power play has produced a goal in five consecutive games after going 2 for 41 over the previous 14 games.

• Ersson converted 35 saves.

The 24-year-old stopped 13 shots in the third period. He made a couple of big glove saves in the first period to keep the game scoreless before Atkinson broke the ice.

In his last 16 starts, Ersson has gone 11-3-2 with a 1.87 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.

He has been excellent.

The Flyers blocked 22 shots Saturday night.

The Jets sported a league-best plus-25 goal differential in the third period, but the Flyers held them off.

Connor Hellebuyck, the 2019-20 Vezina Trophy winner, stopped 34 shots for Winnipeg.

With the addition of Drysdale and Noah Cates nearing a return from a broken foot, the Flyers are going to have daily lineup decisions.

"You're not going to have everybody happy about things when your team is growing," Tortorella said Wednesday. "So to me, it's a really good sign having to make tough decisions because you have more bodies and your team is growing and evolving."

Bobby Brink played only 9:48 minutes against the Jets after sitting Friday night. It's the third time in his last four games that he has played under 10 minutes.

• The Flyers head to St. Louis for a matchup Monday against Kevin Hayes and the Blues (8 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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