Atkinson clutch, Hart comfortable as Flyers hand Oilers their first loss


The Flyers added a nice feather to their cap early in the 2021-22 season by taking down the Oilers, 5-3, Wednesday night at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.

Led by the best player on the planet in Connor McDavid, Edmonton entered the game rolling at 5-0-0 and well-rested, having not played since last Friday.

Without top-pair defenseman Ryan Ellis for a second straight contest, the Flyers still kept the Oilers at bay and never trailed in the game.

Alain Vigneault's club has scored 4.60 goals per game through its 3-1-1 start.

Cam Atkinson continued his red-hot stretch with his second two-goal performance. Sean Couturier iced the game with an empty-net marker.

Entering the final stanza, McDavid had recorded at least a point in 13 of Edmonton's 17 periods on the season. The Flyers held him and the Oilers off the scoreboard in the third period. They had a crucial penalty kill in doing so as they nursed a 4-3 lead.

• In the absence of Ellis (day to day with an undisclosed injury), the Flyers had a gutsy effort, particularly on the back end. Justin Braun finished with two assists and a plus-4 rating, while Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim played big minutes and combined for six blocked shots.

On his 27th birthday, Rasmus Ristolainen was left bloodied near the end of the second period when he took a puck to the face. The puck appeared to do damage to his visor, too.

Ristolainen was able to return to the game a little after the start of the third period. He played a gritty, grind-it-out game with six hits and four blocked shots.

As a team, the Flyers blocked 26 shots.

• In a homecoming night, Carter Hart converted 34 saves. The 23-year-old, who is from right outside of Edmonton (Sherwood Park), faced a McDavid onslaught as the 24-year-old superstar fired nine shots. McDavid finished with another multi-point game (one goal, one assist).

Hart made a couple of big saves on the Oilers' third-period power play with under seven minutes remaining.

He improved to 2-1-1 with a 2.73 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.

Edmonton netminder Mikko Koskinen stopped 29 of the Flyers' 33 shots. Claude Giroux and Nate Thompson got him in the first period to hand the Flyers a 2-0 lead during the opening 10-plus minutes.

• When Atkinson scored his career-high 41 goals in 2018-19 with the Blue Jackets, he had two markers through five games.

In his first season with the Flyers, Atkinson has shot out of the chute with six goals through five games.

His fifth goal just beat the first-period buzzer. Atkinson impressively played a bouncing puck off his skate to himself and fired a shot past Koskinen with under a second left in the opening stanza.

The goal was huge as it came 17 seconds after McDavid tied the game at 2-2 and before Edmonton tied the game again 54 seconds into the second period thanks to Zach Hyman's goal.

Atkinson then broke another tie 4:18 minutes into the third period with his sixth goal of the season.

Five of Atkinson's six tallies have been go-ahead markers. The 32-year-old winger sure seems to have a flair for the dramatic.

• After committing seven penalties in a 4-2 loss to the unbeaten Panthers, the Flyers nearly burned themselves with three more in the first period against the Oilers. The Flyers finished the game with four penalties and the penalty kill went 3 for 4.

In fairness, two of the penalties were questionable: Ristolainen's high-sticking during the first period and Travis Konecny's interference in the third period.

• Playing the first of their 15 back-to-back sets this season, the Flyers are back at it Thursday when they visit the Canucks (10 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

Patrick Brown could make his Flyers debut against Vancouver. If not Thursday, the 29-year-old forward should then be in the lineup Saturday against the Flames as the Flyers wrap up their three-game Western Canada trip (10 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

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