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Flyers hand Oilers their first loss of the season behind Cam Atkinson and Carter Hart

Atkinson scored a pair of goals and Hart made 34 saves in a big road win over Edmonton.

Flyers goalie Carter Hart makes the save as the Edmonton Oilers' Kailer Yamamoto (56) looks for the rebound during the second period.
Flyers goalie Carter Hart makes the save as the Edmonton Oilers' Kailer Yamamoto (56) looks for the rebound during the second period.Read moreJASON FRANSON / AP

EDMONTON, Alberta — Just when the Flyers needed him to, winger Cam Atkinson came up clutch.

Atkinson, who scored the go-ahead goal against the Boston Bruins one week earlier, did the same in the Flyers’ 5-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night. The offseason acquisition’s slap shot on a three-on-two rush sneaked past the glove of goaltender Mikko Koskinen and sealed the Flyers’ third victory of the season.

Atkinson scored the go-ahead goal, but goaltender and Sherwood Park, Alberta, native Carter Hart was the reason the Flyers were in a position to win to begin with. The Oilers outplayed the Flyers in the second period, putting 12 shots on goal to the Flyers’ six. Hart stopped all but one of the barrage of pucks and the score was 3-3 heading into the third period.

After Atkinson’s goal, Hart continued to preserve the Flyers lead, denying the Oilers’ two shots on one final power play. Hart finished with 34 stops and a .919 save percentage.

“Against a team like that, they’re super explosive and they can make plays out of nothing,” winger James van Riemsdyk said. “So you always have to be on your game defensively, and certainly the goaltender’s a big part of that. So he made a lot of big stops for us. And that was a big team effort.”

Going streaking

Heading into the Flyers’ fifth game of the season, both wingers Claude Giroux and Atkinson registered points in the team’s first four games (Giroux: three goals, one assist; Atkinson: four goals, one assist). Against the Oilers, they had opportunities to extend that streak to five games to start the season for the first time in each of their careers.

Both players were successful — early in the first period, Giroux scored on a wraparound goal after Travis Konecny’s initial shot bounced off the boards behind the net to put the Flyers up 1-0. Atkinson’s streak-extending goal came in the final second of the first period and broke the 2-2 tie that Connor McDavid and the Oilers managed to earn 17 seconds earlier. Atkinson corralled a puck off of his left skate and shot the puck between the legs of Koskinen.

» READ MORE: ‘O Canada’: Flyers’ Carter Hart, Travis Sanheim and Martin Jones excited to play in western Canada for first time since 2019

Giroux and Atkinson are the first Flyers players to register five-game point streaks to start the season since Jake Voracek (2014-15), whom the Flyers traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Atkinson.

Playing with power-play fire

After racking up seven minor penalties in their last game against the Florida Panthers, the Flyers sought to stay out of the penalty box against the Oilers. After all, through five games, Edmonton’s power play ranked at the top of the league (47.1%). In their latest two-game road trip, the Oilers went 3-for-5 on the power play and had scored a power-play goal in every game.

To start the game, the Flyers found themselves on the penalty kill three times thanks to minors from Rasmus Ristolainen (high-sticking), Atkinson (tripping), and Zack MacEwen (boarding). The MacEwen penalty resulted in McDavid’s power-play goal, his eighth point on the power play this season. However, in the second period, the Flyers cleaned up their performance and stayed out of the box for 20 minutes. In the third period, the Flyers were called for just one penalty (Konecny, interference) and killed it.

“We took three penalties, and those three were deserved,” head coach Alain Vigneault said. “The one that we had to kill at the end there, in my opinion, that was a missed call there. But it’s a fast-paced game, and sometimes referees are going to interpret things a certain way. But we killed that one. Our guys played hard.”

Mighty McDavid

If it seemed like McDavid didn’t take a shift off to start the game, it’s because he practically didn’t. After the first period, McDavid registered 10:21 of ice time, which included three power-play opportunities for the Oilers. The 2020-21 Hart trophy winner poured the pressure on the Flyers, putting nine shots on goal. However, the Flyers did their best to stifle him and the rest of the Oilers’ potent offense, blocking 26 shots through three periods.

McDavid showed up on the score sheet on the power play. His wrist shot from the left faceoff circle deflected off of defenseman Justin Braun’s stick and sneaked under the right arm of Hart. With an assist on Zach Hyman’s goal to tie the game, 3-3, in the third period, McDavid officially registered a point in 13 of the Oilers’ 17 periods this season.

What’s next

The Flyers play their first back-to-back of the regular season when they head to Vancouver to take on the Canucks on Thursday (10 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia+).