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Flyers rediscover themselves with skid-snapping win over Panthers

Whatever John Tortorella said at first intermission, it worked.

His team looked no better than how it was playing before a long break, one it needed after losing a season-worst five consecutive games.

Following a slow and shaky opening period Tuesday night, the Flyers switched gears and rallied to beat the Panthers, 2-1, at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Florida.

Travis Konecny drew the Flyers even during the second period and Noah Cates gave them the lead 2:36 minutes into the third. The Flyers yielded only three shots in the final stanza to close the door.

The Flyers (26-19-6) had been outscored 27-12 in their five-game skid, which they had to stew over for nine days. The bye week and All-Star break served them well, though, as a timely reset.

This was the Flyers’ first of three meetings with the Panthers (31-15-4). Tortorella’s club still has nine games remaining against the Bruins, Panthers, Lightning and Maple Leafs, the top four teams in the Atlantic Division.

So far, the Flyers are a combined 1-2-0 against Boston, Florida and Tampa Bay. They’ve yet to face Toronto.

Samuel Ersson was the reason the Flyers had a chance to find their footing.

The 24-year-old finished with 20 saves on 21 shots.

He was critical in the opening four minutes of the game as he converted five saves. The Panthers had him under siege and he surrendered only the one goal in the first period, which came on a Florida power play.

Ersson gave the Flyers a really good opportunity to respond in the second period and they did. He had nine saves in the opening frame and had to make just 11 over the final two periods.

This performance had to be huge for his psyche. Ersson had a 4.59 goals-against average and an .819 save percentage over the Flyers’ final four games before the break. Those numbers were not a total product of his play, but he knew he could be better.

With Carter Hart out indefinitely because of a sexual assault case, the Flyers are relying on the rookie Ersson to lead them down the stretch.

He sure looked reliable Tuesday night.

Former Flyers goaltending prospect Anthony Stolarz stopped 23 shots for the Panthers.

• Konecny, fresh off his second All-Star appearance, was delivered a skillful pass from Joel Farabee on his 1-1 goal.

Sean Walker ignited the play.

In the Flyers’ 6-2 loss to the Bruins ahead of the break, both Konecny and Farabee had minus-4 ratings.

Against Florida, they played like two of the best scorers on the ice.

Nick Seeler recorded six of the Flyers’ 22 blocked shots and was a plus-2.

The Flyers dictated play over the final two periods, outshooting the Panthers 20-11.

• A big positive for the Flyers was the return of Owen Tippett.

The power forward missed the last four games because of a lower-body injury.

“He’s a type of guy that can push offense himself without any help,” Tortorella said 10 days ago, “so he’s a very important guy for us.”

On Tuesday night, Tippett played 17:52 minutes, had three shots and seven shot attempts.

The Flyers will need his offense.

• While drawing a penalty 3:18 minutes into the second period, Garnet Hathaway appeared to be nicked up.

He exited the game but returned with under three minutes to go in the middle stanza.

Losing Hathaway would have put the Flyers at only 10 forwards. Nicolas Deslauriers, Olle Lycksell and Marc Staal were healthy scratches as Tortorella rolled with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

• The Flyers return to Philadelphia for a three-game homestand, which starts Thursday against the Jets (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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