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Recap: Hart leads Flyers past Ducks for emotional 4-1 win

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NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a rough few days for the Philadelphia Flyers and their fans, but tonight’s emotional 4-1 victory over the visiting Anaheim Ducks is just what the team needed. Goals from Claude Giroux, David Kase, Jakub Voracek, and Sean Couturier were more than enough support for Carter Hart who denied 40 of Anaheim’s 41 shots on net tonight.

The news of Lindblom’s diagnosis of Ewing sarcoma last week shook not only those interested in the Flyers but hockey fans all over the globe. It’s devastating news to hear as someone who has never met Lindblom personally, so I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the team playing on the road these last few days. Tonight’s game, however, was a chance for the team to come home and take some time to let the information really sink in. Spend some time with family, friends, and the teammate in need before refocusing on the task at hand and it looks like that’s exactly what they needed.

After a pair of strong shifts to open the game, the Orange and Black spent most of the first period playing defense. The shot attempt differential at 5-on-5 in the first wasn’t embarrassingly in Anaheim’s favor (21-16), but some sloppy play resulted in a lot of offensive zone time for the Ducks and a 31.85 expected goals-for percentage for Philly.

The second period is where the Flyers harnessed their energy properly and jumped out to a two-goal advantage. The captain opened the scoring 55 ticks into the stanza by being the final pass in a tic-tac-toe passing sequence where Couturier found Travis Konecny across the slot in the right circle before the 2015 pick slid it over to Giroux camped out on the other side of the crease.

Kase decided to jump in on the action and extended the lead to two just 3:19 after Giroux’s goal. A pair of passes from Morgan Frost and Travis Sanheim resulted in Kase putting a stick on a pass from the point past John Gibson.

Rickard Rakell cut the lead to one late in the second period, but Voracek scored on 2-on-1 rush to cap off a great individual effort and Couturier added an empty-netter to finalize the score at 4-1.

Three Stars of the Night

1. Carter Hart
With the Flyers down several forwards the team needed a big performance from the kid and they got it. The Ducks’ 41 shots on goal is the most Hart has seen thrown at him in a single game this season, but the netminder stopped 40 of them while his teammates posted a goalless first period and two goals of support until Voracek’s marker with 15:49 left in regulation. Anaheim also produced 2.02 expected goals in all situations tonight, but Hart’s ability to keep them off the scoreboard in a first period where they lived in the o zone, and a third period that featured quality chances from Cam Fowler and Ryan Getzlaf let the Flyers go home with a pair of points.

2. Travis Konecny
This team’s offensive creativity was expectedly lacking over the last few contests and no surprise Konecny helped to fix that. In a 0-0 game halfway through the second period Konecny’s ability to one-touch a pass to Giroux set up the captain for a wide open net to finish off a tic-tac-toe play that featured a pair of passes across the slot to make Gibson move. He also had an offensive zone takeaway and scoring chance in the third period, but his self-created wide open chance from the slot went wide of Gibson’s net. His overall numbers on the night weren’t amazing (1 assist, 3 shots on goal, 2 hits in 17:02), but he provided the type of play that the team had been looking for the previous three games.

3. David Kase
Gotta give the guy some recognition for his first NHL goal, right? I’m also mentioning him here because I think this tally is more a reward of how he’s played lately and not so much just being on the receiving end of a lucky bounce or anything. He showed flashes of offensive upside that could have resulted in a point or two on the team’s recent three-game road trip, but his forechecking ability, speed, and gravitation to where the puck is/will be put Kase in front of Gibson’s blue paint to finish off a slap-pass from Sanheim. He finished the night with one goal on one shot and a plus-2 rating in 10:56 ice time with perhaps something management can point to when deciding whether or not to send the Czech back down to the AHL.

Questions for tonight

1. Will the third line ever shoot the puck?
Not only did these bad boys throw some rubber on net, they came away with TWO (2) goals. Granted these were the only two shots these forwards combined to have at 5-on-5, but still. On top of the goals Voracek also set up Shayne Gostisbehere for a wide-open chance in the slot in the first period, but the blue liner missed the net if you can believe it. Together at full strength this trio had a 33.33 corsi for percentage (four shot attempts for, eight shot attempts against while together at 5-on-5) and a 43.05 expected goals-for percentage in 7:42 of work. They didn’t drive play, but they scored a pair of crucial goals for a team that’s struggled to score recently.

2. How will the energy be?

Evident. It didn’t result in an early lead, but the intensity was there from the start. Nicolas Aube-Kubel laid a massive hit on Jacob Larsson and Chris Stewart dropped the gloves with Nicolas Deslauriers in the opening frame to get the 250 fans in attendance going (there are a lot of reasons why the attendance is down, it’s not just one thing). Some sloppy play with the puck and away from it negated some of the effectiveness of how amped the guys may have been for tonight’s contest, but the important thing is the team didn’t really lose focus in the second period once they came out of the first empty-handed.