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Flyers put improved offense up against Capitals

Dec 23, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA;  Philadelphia Flyers center Patrick Brown (38) and center Zack MacEwen (17) talk against the Carolina Hurricanes during the second period at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The surging Philadelphia Flyers will look for their sixth victory in seven games when they host the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.

Following a season-best four-game winning streak, the Flyers fell 6-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday. But they responded one night later with a stellar 4-0 win on the road against the Buffalo Sabres.

Backup goaltender Sam Ersson stopped all 28 shots for his first career shutout in his fifth-ever start. It came after he nearly earned a shutout in his previous start, giving up his only goal in the final minute of a Jan. 2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

“We were good through most of the game. I think they turned it up on us, and that’s where Ersy played well,” Flyers head coach John Tortorella said. “That position kind of determines the being of the team. That’s what has been impressive about him. He’s been very calm. It affects the team. He’s grown since (his debut in) Carolina. I’m so happy for him.”

The Flyers have gone through some growing pains with a litany of injuries to key players, along with having such a young team. Despite being without the likes of Sean Couturier, Cam Atkinson and Ryan Ellis, they’re beginning to collectively elevate their level of play.

“I think we just keep getting better,” said Philadelphia’s Zack MacEwen, who scored one of the four goals against Buffalo. “We’re starting to trust our game and our structure. With that, I think we’re kind of playing the right way and it’s creating more offense for us. We’re scoring more goals. It’s just something we’ve got to keep building.”

The Capitals will aim for their second straight win after they earned a 1-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.

Along with the victory came the much-anticipated season debuts of Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson. Backstrom returned from hip surgery and Wilson came back from ACL surgery.

The once-depleted Capitals are suddenly getting healthy at the right time.

“You know, after an injury, it’s a little bit different,” Wilson said. “You’re expecting your body to show up, but you never really know. I tried to put in all the work I could, and it held up. We got through it. It felt better as the game went on. The guys battled for Nicky and I to get it done … and it’s nice to get the first one out of the way. But it was a really cool experience.”

Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette has juggled lines all season and finally got a much-needed boost for the lineup.

“It was great to have them back out there,” Laviolette said. “That’s a lot, jumping into that game. I thought they did fine, and every day from today as they move forward, they’ll get more confident and just feel better about it. I’m sure they’re both glad to have it behind them and in the rearview mirror.”

The Capitals recorded 25 blocked shots and goaltender Darcy Kuemper was solid with 38 saves in the shutout.

“We got the early goal, and I thought we did a pretty good job five-on-five for the most part at holding them off,” Laviolette said. “And when we needed some big saves — and there were some big ones tonight — I thought Kuemps was really good.”

–Field Level Media

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