The Flyers were in dire need of both a spark and a win, and Carter Hart was able to provide both in his NHL debut on Tuesday night.
Hart made 20 saves on 22 shots to earn the win while Shayne Gostisbehere and James van Riemsdyk both added a goal and an assist in the Flyers’ 3-2 win over the Red Wings.
Not only does the Carter Hart era get off to a winning start, but so too does the Scott Gordon era as the Flyers’ interim coach earns his first win behind an NHL bench since way back in 2010 with the Islanders.
It didn’t take long for Carter Hart to make his first career save for the Flyers, turning aside a Tyler Bertuzzi offering 1:05 in. He’s the second youngest goalie every to start a game for the Flyers at just 20 years old (Maxime Ouellet was 19).
As the play was happening Travis Konecny was dumped hard from behind by Luke Glendening to give the Flyers the first power play of the game. Konecny missed a few shifts but returned later after repairs.
A JVR penalty for interference would kill the man advantage halfway through. Detroit would put the Flyers right back on the power play with a bench minor, though nothing would be doing again despite some strong zone time from both units and a pair of shots.
It took another 11 minutes for Hart to make his second save as the Flyers really maintained control of the early first period action, as Jonathan Bernier was the far busier of the two netminders.
There was a great chance for Konecny with 4:13 left in the first, firing a one-timer in on Bernier after a nice rush by van Riemsdyk. But the Red Wings went down the other way with a chance of their own and resulted in another JVR penalty, this time for hooking.
Hart’s best save of the period would be a big one, stoning Dylan Larkin right in front with 3:15 left. Larkin got free in the slot and a Flyers miscue put the puck on his stick in a dangerous area but the rookie netminder was there to erase the chance.
With 1:27 left in the period the Flyers would finally break through, with JVR making up for his pair of penalties with a perfect deflection to make it 1-0. Claude Giroux sent the point shot to the net and JVR picked up his fourth goal of the season to get the all-important first goal.
Carter Hart stopped all eight shots he faced in his first NHL action, because that’s really what this all is about.
JVR puts the Flyers up 1-0! pic.twitter.com/WcRDyrwIMS— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 19, 2018
After 20: Flyers 1, Red Wings 0
The Red Wings would grab the first man advantage of the second with Oskar Lindblom going off for slashing 3:08 in. Though another offensive zone penalty, albeit a rather weak one, ones that interim coach Scott Gordon won’t like all too much.
Detroit would take advantage, tying things up at 1-1 with Dennis Cholowski firing home a power play tally with Thomas Vanek parked in front of Hart. It’s Cholowski’s sixth of the season, from Gustav Nyquist and Dylan Larkin.
Shayne Gostisbehere had a nice chance to try and give the Flyers the lead right back off a beatufitul cross-ice look from Jake Voracek but Bernier had an answer for Ghost from the right circle.
It would be a defenseman to give the Flyers the lead back, though it was Radko Gudas doing the honors to make it 2-1. Gudas let go an absolute laser of a slap shot from the point, beating Bernier clean at the 8:52 mark. The goal was challenged by the Red Wings, who argued that JVR had impeded Bernier, but was upheld.
This shot from Radko makes us Gladko pic.twitter.com/o3uZp4cGWJ— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 19, 2018
Ghost would get in on the action after all, though, potting his first goal in 15 games by hopping up on the rush and taking a feed from Nolan Patrick to push the lead to 3-1 with 4:41 left in the second. Michael Raffl picked up the other assist on the goal, Gostisbehere’s fourth of the season.
Raffl ➡️ Patrick ➡️ Gostisbehere pic.twitter.com/4jYO7JwV6r— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 19, 2018
Hart came up with a couple of nice stops on Nyquist just before intermission to preserve the Flyers’ two-goal lead. It was nice work from the young netminder given he had just experienced his second long stretch of the night without seeing much rubber.
A big save by Hart to end the period. pic.twitter.com/IvVYETsUBF— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 19, 2018
Through 40: Flyers 3, Red Wings 1
Despite the Flyers looking to extend the lead for their young goaltender, it would be the Red Wings that would strike first in the third. Jacob de la Rose got loose in front and whipped one past Hart to pull the Red Wings within one at 3-2 just two minutes in. Detroit got the best of the Flyers’ fourth line with de la Rose beating the defense to the front of the net and getting the reward.
After what seemed like five straight icing calls had the crowd feeling the nerves, the Flyers settled down after the de la Rose goal and strung together a few shifts back in the Detroit zone with more than six minutes gone.
Building on that momentum, Jake Voracek set up Wayne Simmonds with a great look cross-ice feed, but Simmonds couldn’t solve Bernier to restore the Flyers’ two-goal lead. With several Flyers getting going in this one, they’d have loved to get Simmonds going along with the others like Ghost and Patrick.
Gordon kept the shifts short on his bench down the stretch, trying desperately to get out of his debut behind the Flyers bench with a win. Despite protecting a one-goal lead, the Flyers were still aggressive in trying to generate offense even with less than six minutes remaining in regulation.
But Carter Hart would be tested again, coming up with a confident save on Andreas Athanasiou and leaving no rebound for the Red Wings to pry at with just 2:31 remaining. Detroit would pull Bernier on the following shift to grab an extra attacker with 1:45 still on the clock and needing an equalizer.
With the Red Wings’ net still empty, Hart would come up with one final save to preserve the 3-2 victory for the Flyers and a much-needed one at that.