Carter Hart gave the Philadelphia Flyers a much-needed boost in an otherwise frustrating season.
The 24-year-old goaltender matched his career-high with 48 saves Thursday as the Flyers came up with a scintillating 2-1 road victory over the New Jersey Devils.
The Flyers will look to sustain that positive momentum Saturday when they host the New York Rangers, winners of five in a row.
“I just liked his whole demeanor through the game,” Philadelphia head coach John Tortorella said. “I’m not a goalie coach, but there wasn’t a lot of extra movement, he looked calm. It’s one of the better games I’ve seen him play.”
The Flyers were outshot 49-24, but Hart’s heroics propelled the Flyers to a victory.
“Like I’ve been saying all year, Carter Hart keeps us in every game,” said Travis Konecny, who scored the go-ahead goal.
The short-handed Flyers continue to play without key injured players such as Sean Couturier, Cam Atkinson and Ryan Ellis. Before edging the Devils, they had won just two of their preceding 18 games (2-11-5).
Despite some recent maddening losses, the young players keep improving.
“I think we can play with anyone,” Scott Laughton said. “We’ve gone into overtime where the game’s gone the other way. If we play physical and hard on our forecheck, get pucks behind them and not make lateral plays at the blue and red (lines), we’re a tough team to play against.
“We have a lot of big bodies that go on their D and defensemen don’t want to go back for pucks. That’s what we did tonight.”
Tortorella benched leading scorer Kevin Hayes for the third period, the second time it has occurred this season.
“Oh, I’m not going to talk (about that),” Tortorella said. “It was my decision not to play him, but I’m not going to get too involved in that.”
On Saturday morning, Tortorella announced that Hayes will not play against the Rangers. He also announced forward Lukas Sedlak has left the team to return to the Czech Republic. He did not divulge a reason for Sedlak’s departure, however.
The red-hot Rangers will look for their sixth consecutive victory. The five is already their longest winning streak since they won seven in a row a little over a year ago — from Nov. 21 to Dec. 7, 2021.
Jimmy Vesey scored two goals for the Rangers in a 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.
“It’s definitely a ‘measuring stick’ game,” Vesey said. “We were feeling good about ourselves, too. I think it’s a big win for us and knowing how we have to play to win those big games.”
After some inconsistent play and execution, the Rangers have looked like a different team in wins over the St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche, New Jersey Devils and Maple Leafs.
“The mood has been a little better in here,” Vesey said. “Obviously, that might be a result of getting a few wins. But we’re in high spirits right now and going into every game it feels like we’re going to win.
“We talked about, I think (Chris Kreider) used the term ‘stacking wins,’ and it’s five in a row now. Got a few more before Christmas break and we’re looking to finish strong.”
Filip Chytil added a goal and Vincent Trocheck contributed a pair of assists for the Rangers.
“Good effort by our group,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said. “The whole group played really well. A team effort from start to finish. Everybody bought in.”
–Field Level Media