flyers preseason

Roster talk continues, Atkinson returns and Flyers drop preseason game in OT

The team has two exhibition games left, both at home

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The back half of the Flyers' preseason slate arrived Saturday night as the club fell to the Devils, 3-2, in overtime at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers, who are 1-2-1 in the preseason, got a longer look at some of their top bubble players and prospects.

The team has two more exhibition games remaining, both at home.

Wade Allison provided the Flyers' first goal. Rhett Gardner, a candidate to be a depth forward, tied the game with 3:06 minutes left in the third period. From behind the net, camp invite Matt Brown found Gardner in front.

Erik Haula scored the OT winner for New Jersey.

Flyers assistant coaches Rocky Thompson, Brad Shaw and Darryl Williams led the bench for a second straight game while John Tortorella continued to evaluate from the club's management suite alongside general manager Danny Briere. The head coach is expected to be behind the bench for the final two exhibition games.

• Allison, Bobby Brink and Emil Andrae, three players vying for jobs, started the game with a bang. Just 2:04 minutes into the action, Andrae found Allison, who left Brink a drop pass. The 22-year-old winger then made a dazzling move to get the puck back to Allison for a 1-0 goal.

Later in the first period, Brink committed a bad turnover on the power play, which led to a 2-on-none rush for the Devils. Carter Hart bailed him out with a great save.

Brink headlined the Flyers' 4-3 shootout win Friday night in Boston, earning himself another opportunity to fuel his case for the Flyers' roster.

"That's my job, is to come in here and do my best to try to win a spot on the team," Brink said. "Ultimately it's not my decision, but just come out here and try to do my best."

Right now, it's tough to deny Brink's preseason work. He's a prospect the Flyers are high on and he has put up three points (one goal, two assists) and a shootout marker in three games. He's a player you can trust on the third line.

"He's fighting for a spot, without a doubt," Thompson said. "He's answering some tough questions right now. He's going to make our decision hard, which is what you want."

Allison had his best game of the preseason. He played bottom-six type of minutes but chased pucks and got on the board. He's trying to fend off Brink and Tyson Foerster, among others, for the final lineup spot up front.

"I feel like I'm doing a lot of good things out there," Allison said. "I need to clean up a few decisions I'm making, but I like where my game's at and I like where it's going."

Andrae had a good game in big minutes. The 21-year-old defenseman caught a tough break when his shot was blocked at the tail end of a first-period power play, which resulted in an odd-man rush and New Jersey's game-tying 1-1 goal.

"He made a young-guy mistake a couple of times late in the power play, not kind of recognizing the clock and forcing something," Thompson said. "We talked about it in the room and that happens, you learn from it. I like how he handles things, he doesn't get down on himself or anything. He just kind of goes about his business."

In three preseason games, Andrae hasn't been perfect but he has done a lot of things well. He sees the ice and is a cool customer under pressure. If he doesn't start with the Flyers, he doesn't look far off.

Defensive prospects Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning and camp invite Brendan Furry had trouble in the defensive zone when the Devils seized a 2-1 lead with 3:18 minutes left in the opening frame.

• Cam Atkinson saw his first game action since April 2022.

The 34-year-old missed all of last season with a neck injury that required surgery in December. His preseason debut was a bit delayed because of soreness from a lower-body injury.

Atkinson ripped a couple of shots in the second period. During the game, he joined a line with Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny. He finished with three shots and moved well.

"I didn't really feel too bad other than kind of like my timing, getting the puck and realizing they're on you pretty quickly," Atkinson said. "I felt like as the second and third period went on, I was way more comfortable and making little area plays to whoever I was playing with."

Atkinson wants to play in the final two exhibition games, giving him three total in preparation for the opener.

"That's my goal and I'm sure I'll talk to Torts about that if all goes well," he said Saturday morning. "Once you get the first game out of the way, I think the second game your timing starts getting a little bit better and by the third time, you're kind of gearing up for the start of the regular season."

In his second preseason game, Couturier was more active offensively. He showed some promising flashes alongside Konecny. He played just under 22 minutes.

The 30-year-old center is trying to shake off as much rust as possible from a layoff of 21-plus months, the result of two back surgeries.

"Body feels good," Couturier said Saturday morning. "Surprisingly I'm not too sore or anything. I've worked hard all summer to go through this tough camp. The body feels good. Obviously tired, it has been a long, hard camp, but just trying to recover as much as I can and get some fresh legs. I'm just excited to get back into action here next couple of days, couple of games here. Try to get into a rhythm here."

• Hart played his first game of the preseason and converted 19 saves on 22 shots.

The 25-year-old turned away multiple odd-man rushes, as well as the 2-on-none in the first period.

"Our mistakes were like big, huge mistakes and Carter had to come up big and make saves," Thompson said. "For the most part, we didn't defend at all in our own end tonight, defensive-zone coverage kind of things."

How many more periods would Hart like to play before opening night?

"I feel pretty good right now," he said. "It's their decision. ... We only have two games left, so we'll see what happens."

New Jersey netminder Vitek Vanecek stopped 29 of the Flyers' 31 shots.

• Samu Tuomaala recorded an assist and has had a very productive preseason.

• Cam York practiced with the non-game group Saturday. He had missed a couple of practices earlier in the week with an undisclosed injury.

We'll see if the 22-year-old defenseman will get another exhibition game before the Oct. 12 regular-season opener. He hasn't played since the preseason opener.

• As expected, the Flyers made more cuts Saturday. Prospects Elliot Desnoyers and Helge Grans were sent to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, which opens training camp Sunday.

Jordy Bellerive and Jacob Gaucher also headed to the Phantoms after being released from their professional tryouts.

The Flyers' roster is down to 38 healthy players, with more subtractions expected at some point prior to the fifth preseason game.

The club could have five jobs still up for grabs: the 12th and 13th forwards, sixth and seventh defensemen and backup goalie.

It's uncertain if the Flyers will carry eight defensemen or possibly 14 forwards to open the regular season. Tortorella on Thursday said it was too early for that decision.

• The Flyers are off Sunday before hosting the Bruins on Monday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

The team will hold a skate at 10 a.m. ET in Voorhees, New Jersey, while a non-game group is scheduled to practice at 10 a.m. ET on the adjacent rink.

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