It’s not an easy feat to out duel Ilya Sorokin. A Vezina trophy runner up last season, the Islanders goaltender stymied the Flyers when these two teams faced off three days ago. He did the best he could in putting on a repeat performance. Unfortunately for him, Sam Ersson did the same. With Ersson earning the 1-0 shutout victory, this is the first time the Flyers have shutout the Islanders since January 9, 2016. Steve Mason was in net and stopped 20 shots in the 4-0 shutout victory.
Both goaltenders stopped a combined 65 shots thrown their way. It was Sorokin who faced a tougher test in terms of shot volume as he stopped all 40 shots thrown his way. Ersson only had to deal with 25 shots but there were plenty of testers in it.
"”It’s big for me, he’s one of the best goalies in the whole world. He’s a guy that you definitely know how great he is. It’s a big moment for me to kind of get that opportunity to measure myself against him,” Ersson said about going save for save with Sorokin."
A Marc Staal turnover, though it might as well just have been a pass to the slot, in the second period set up a point blank chance for Julien Gauthier that Ersson denied. He had to be sharp as the puck was on and off Gauthier’s stick in a hurry.
Ersson also made a save toward the end of regulation that sent this game into extra time. Through a screen by his own teammate, the Flyers goaltender had to deal with a blast my Noah Dobson that he managed to get the blocker on with just four seconds to go. Cates was diving across to try and block the shot, but Ersson was able to see around it just in time to stop it.
He would then deny all four of Bo Horvat, Oliver Walstrom, Mathew Barzal, and Kyle Palmeri in the shootout.
After allowing 12 goals in his first two starts, Ersson has settled down and been a steady option behind Carter Hart. In his last four games, the young goaltender has only given up more than two goals in one game. He has three wins and now one shutout in that span to go with a 1.58 GAA and a .936 SV%. After winning the backup job during training camp, these numbers are exactly why he’s here.
There is hardly ever a moment where things look too big for Ersson. His steady and calm demeanor is something John Tortorella has talked about before. Ersson couldn’t have done it without the play in front of him as well, especially on the penalty kill. The unit, which has been playing rather well this season, has killed off 21 of their last 22 opportunities. They shut down all three chances the Islanders had. In fact, Philadelphia had more shots shorthanded (3) than the Islanders had shots on the man advantage (0). That’s one way to shut things down.
And not to be outdone, Tyson Foerster was all over the ice in his one. Not only did he end up with the only goal in the shootout, he managed to fire a game-high six shots on net. Only Cam Atkinson was close to that total with five shots, two of which came shorthanded. But for Foerster, while this goal doesn’t count for him, it should release the pressure from him. It’s been frustrating for him in terms of finishing on his chances. Hopefully this opens things up for him scoring on a goaltender like Sorokin.
"”I guess it doesn’t count for him as a goal, but it will count for him because hopefully it’s releases him. He’s done everything else except score. Hopefully that will help his confidence there. It’s a great move on a really good goalie,” Tortorella said about Foerster’s confidence after the shootout winner."
This snaps a two-game losing streak for the Flyers and is their first win at UBS Arena. They had lost the previous five games in the Islanders’ arena. The Islanders were 12-2-0 against Philadelphia in their last 14 games head to head. There won’t be much time to rest as the Hurricanes are in town for the third matchup between the two teams. Each team has won one game in the series so far. That matchup will be on Tuesday evening.