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Ersson's huge save springs Flyers to needed win over Sharks

A brilliant third-period save by Samuel Ersson propelled the Flyers to a 3-2 win Tuesday night over the Sharks at the Wells Fargo Center.

Ersson denied Alexander Barabanov on a breakaway 4:12 minutes into the final stanza to keep the game tied at 2-2. The toe stop gave the Flyers an opportunity to take the lead just 57 seconds later.

“That was huge,” Travis Konecny said. “We’re not surprised by him. He does great things all the time for us to keep us in games and that’s why we are where we’re at. Everyone does their part and he’s doing his all the time for us, so it’s awesome to see.”

Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost and Owen Tippett scored the Flyers’ goals.

Tippett netted the game-winner on a delayed penalty. Konecny found him backdoor with a great feed.

“I think as soon as I was at the top, we kind of locked eyes,” Tippett said. “The seam stayed open and he made a great play.”

With 76 points, the Flyers (34-24-8) have already eclipsed last season’s total of 75 (31-38-13). They have 16 games remaining this season.

Head coach John Tortorella served the first game of his two-game suspension. Assistant coaches Brad Shaw, Rocky Thompson and Darryl Williams ran the Flyers’ bench.

The Flyers split their two-game regular-season series with the Sharks (16-41-7). San Jose beat the Flyers back on Nov. 7 to pick up its first win of the season after an 0-10-1 start.

Ahead of last Friday’s NHL trade deadline, the Sharks dealt away their 2024 All-Star (Tomas Hertl), a goal-scoring winger (Anthony Duclair) and a goaltender (Kaapo Kahkonen).

• Coming off the shortest outing of his NHL career, Ersson answered in a clutch way.

“That’s the nice thing about being a goalie, you get to impact the game in a big way,” the 24-year-old said. “That’s what you want, you want to have those moments come at you and you want to come out with a big save. That’s the most fun part about being a goalie.”

Ersson finished with 27 saves on 29 shots. He quietly converted some key stops in the first period.

“Let’s put it this way, in my head, not even a thought when there’s something going to the net,” Thompson said of his confidence in Ersson. “Not that he’s going to make every save, but I don’t have the feeling like he’s not. He has earned that respect, in my opinion, over the last couple of months here. He has done a really good job.”

The Flyers never trailed, in large part because of Ersson. They had self-inflicted wounds, committing six penalties and allowing San Jose to tie the game twice on the power play.

But they were much better in the third period and Ersson delivered the biggest play of the night.

“We felt as a staff, we just needed to play 5-on-5,” Thompson said. “We were cheating, I thought, early in the game, even at 5-on-5. We weren’t able to sustain offensive-zone pressure, we were exposing pucks, hope plays and we were very undisciplined. And their power play is really good. That was the game plan of ours, was to be disciplined because it would limit their opportunity for offense.

“But we didn’t follow that for the first 30 minutes and guys got a wake-up call halfway though the game. I liked the perseverance, we buckled down and we turned a corner. We really turned the game on its head after that, we stayed out of the penalty box, we were smarter and we were able to do what we felt we could do, which would be to grind them out in the offensive zone.”

Sharks netminder Magnus Chrona stopped 38 of the Flyers’ 41 shots.

• This game was pivotal for the Flyers because they now face a daunting stretch. Their next seven games come against teams in playoff position, all of them contenders.

Two vs. BOS
Two vs. TOR
One vs. FLA
One vs. NYR
One vs. CAR

The Flyers entered Tuesday with a 71.4 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to Hockey-Reference.com’s probabilities report. They’ve been in third place since the end of January and are four points up on the Islanders, who have played two fewer games.

• Frost did his best Jalen Hurts impression, threading the needle and leading Farabee with a perfect pass through the middle of the ice for the game-opening goal in the first period.

“A couple of their guys took some whacks at it, I thought it was going to get batted down,” Frost said. “When I saw it kind of land, I don’t think I took another stride after, I just watched Beezer do his thing. Great finish by him.”

The 24-year-old center gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead in the second period with a power play marker.

After sitting Jan. 4, his 11th healthy scratch of the season, Frost has put up five goals and 17 assists in 28 games. His 22 points over that span are the most on the Flyers.

Konecny had two helpers Tuesday night and Tippett unleashed eight shots.

Cam York and Travis Sanheim were really effective in big minutes for a team depleted on the back end.

York had a pair of assists and was a plus-1. Sanheim was a plus-1, as well.

“Played really good,” Thompson said of his top defensive pair. “Tons of minutes. … Credit to both of those guys, they played well and the other four [defensemen], they did what they needed to do to help shore up the game, for sure.

“You can’t say enough good things about what they had to go through tonight and what they’ve been going through for a long time here. I mean, they play a ton of minutes in all situations and have been doing a really good job.”

Cam Atkinson, Nicolas Deslauriers and Adam Ginning were healthy scratches. The Flyers went with the traditional 12 forwards and six defensemen.

• After an off day Wednesday, the Flyers host the Maple Leafs on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET/ESPN+, Hulu).

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