PHILADELPHIA — Finally, the Flyers have a shoot-first forward.
With the Flyers’ third game of the season against the Boston Bruins tied early in the third period, offseason acquisition Cam Atkinson scored the go-ahead goal off the rush generated when winger Joel Farabee picked off Bruins defenseman Mike Reilly in the neutral zone.
In the Flyers’ 6-3 win Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, keeping the puck out of their own zone proved to be a challenge early in the game against a formidable top line of Brad Marchand, David Pastrňák and Patrice Bergeron, but the Flyers managed to stand strong through the storm.
The Bruins outshot the Flyers, 40-25. Regardless, the home team found a way to rattle Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman and scored three goals in the third period.
Atkinson ultimately registered two goals in his third game as a Flyer. For the first time since Jan. 18, 2020 against the New Jersey Devils, the former Columbus Blue Jacket pulled off a multigoal game.
Jones holds it down
After coach Alain Vigneault started goalie Carter Hart in the Flyers’ first two games, he gave backup Martin Jones the nod. The contest against the Bruins marked Jones’ first start since the Flyers’ final preseason game on Oct. 8 against the Washington Capitals and his regular-season debut.
Early in the first period, Jones kept the Flyers in the game. The Bruins maintained possession of the puck and put three shots on goal within the first four minutes of the game. Jones let three pucks past him in the first and second periods, but to lump all the blame on Jones would be unfair — two goals were scored off tricky rebounds and another came on a breakaway from 2017-18 Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall.
Through three periods, Jones stopped 37 shots and finished with a .925 save percentage.
The second line of left winger Joel Farabee, center Derick Brassard, and right winger Atkinson came off of a stellar performance in the Flyers’ 6-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Atkinson (one assist, plus-3), Brassard (one goal, two assists, plus-3) and Farabee (one goal, one assist, plus-3) collectively tallied six points and registered a plus-nine rating.
That chemistry continued to build in their third game against the Bruins. While the Flyers struggled to sustain offensive pressure in the first half of the first period, Atkinson broke out on a two-on-one rush off a pass from Brassard, faked a pass to Farabee, and scored on a wrist shot to put the Flyers up 1-0. It was just the Flyers’ second shot of the game to the Bruins’ eight.
“I think their D were pinching and Brass made a good play to me for a two-on-one,” Atkinson said after the first period. “I wanted to pass, but obviously I decided to shoot, and good things happen when I shoot.”
The line is also featured on the Flyers’ second power-play unit with defensemen Ivan Provorov and Ryan Ellis. On their first power play of the night in the first period, Ellis’ shot from the point was blocked up front and Farabee scored on a rebound to put the Flyers up 2-1. Ultimately, in addition to Atkinson’s third-period goal, the trio combined for three goals and three assists.
Highs and lows for Ristolainen
Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, the longtime Buffalo Sabre who missed the first two games with an upper-body injury, made his Flyers debut. In Ristolainen, the Flyers got some good and some not-so-good. The good came early in the first period when Ristolainen laid a heavy hit on Bruins center Charlie Coyle, who took out his frustrations on defenseman Travis Sanheim by tripping him on the ensuing play. The Flyers went on their first power play, which resulted in the Farabee goal.
Then, there was the not-so-good. Ristolainen’s failed to dump the puck into the Bruins’ zone in the first half of the second period, as Charlie McAvoy intercepted the puck and put a stretch pass on Hall’s tape. Hall scored on the breakaway to cut the Flyers’ lead to 3-2. Ristolainen was also in the vicinity on Marchand’s game-tying goal in the final minute of the second period. Ristolainen finished the night minus-1 with two penalty minutes.
The Flyers conclude their season-opening, four-game homestand on Saturday when they face off against the Florida Panthers at 7 p.m. (televised on NBC Sports Philadelphia). The game marks the first time defenseman Keith Yandle will play against his former team since signing with the Flyers this offseason as a free agent. After their homestand, the Flyers will head to western Canada to begin a three-game road trip starting with the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, Oct. 27.
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