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Flyers 2, Devils 1: An early Christmas miracle

Carter Hart, the hero we don’t deserve, puts up a highlight reel game.

New Jersey Devils v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Both the Philadelphia Flyers and the New Jersey Devils came into tonight’s game in the midst of multi-game losing streaks—four for the Flyers and three for the Devils—and one would inevitably have to walk out of the Prudential Center with the win. This time, thanks to some absolute wizardry by Carter Hart, it was the Flyers.

Philadelphia’s most notable lineup absence was Tony DeAngelo, who was placed on non-roster status while he attends to a family matter. With him out, we got another opportunity to see Cam York on the blueline, fresh off his first goal of the season in Colorado. We also got to see Olle Lycksell back on the big club due to some other injuries (Patrick Brown and Max Willman, both upper body), and seeing these young players take their shot is one positive to take away from this season. Lycksell looked pretty good in the lineup, too, and hopefully he sticks for a while.

Anyway, let’s get into one of the wildest games the Flyers have played this season.

First Period

The Flyers had a couple decent pushes in the first few minutes, but wound up utterly outplayed by the Devils. Off a face-off at 3:26, the Devils went on the power play after a hooking penalty by Kevin Hayes. With all the offensive tools at their disposal, the Devils were bound to score, and Jack Hughes delivered the first goal of the game after weaving through several idling Flyers defenders. Five minutes into the period, and Jersey had the lead 1-0 and a shot differential of 8-0. Is that good? That’s probably good.

Travis Konecny got the Flyers’ first shot of the game off a turnover by the Devils, but Vitek Vanecek gloved it down with relative ease. It sparked something in the Flyers though as they continued to apply pressure. Things inevitably came back down to the Flyers end and boy, Jack Hughes looked hungry tonight, nearly getting his second tally.

Thank god for Carter Hart bailing out his defenders this period, which ended up being the story of the entire game. For starters, Ivan Provorov made a brutal turnover at the Flyers crease that Hart managed to keep out of the net. Then Hart’s heroics once again managed to keep what can only be described as a Three Stooges sequence from turning into a goal: Scott Laughton turned the puck over in front of the net, Nick Seeler made a solid defensive play and knocked that guy down, then Justin Braun stumbled and fell over the player on the ice, and the Devils nearly scored. Comedy!

Late in the first period, Noah Cates took a stick to the face that drew blood. That’s a double minor and we, the viewers, would get to watch the Flyers fail to score on two consecutive power plays. Despite having the man advantage, the Flyers could not gain possession and continually failed to gain the offensive zone, and the period ended with a shorthanded attempt by the Devils.

That first period was all New Jersey, going into the first intermission with the lead in goals (1-0) and shots (17-7). The Flyers just could not contain the high-octane offense the Devils brought to the ice, and they’d have to ramp it up in the second if they wanted a chance to win this one.

Second Period

The Flyers started the second period on the remainder of the double minor, and nearly scored off some good work by Noah Cates. Unfortunately, nothing went in, and it just speaks to the lack of goalscoring talent—

What’s that? They scored on the next power play? Travis Konecny was tripped, and Scott Laughton ripped a one-timer past Vanecek on the ensuing power play, and the game’s tied at one a piece. Broken clocks and all that.

That offensive pressure by the Flyers continued, resulting in Konecny getting crosschecked into the boards (he was everywhere tonight) and yet another power play for the Orange and Black. Things got weird when Erik Haula threw his stick to his teammate during play, resulting in a second penalty for “throwing equipment.” Haven’t heard that one before, but it gave the Flyers just over a minute of 5-on-3. The Flyers failed to capitalize on that and the remaining regular man advantage, but Hart did make another stellar save on a shorthanded breakaway by Yegor Sharangovich. Our hero!

After the mess of New Jersey penalties, we got our first fight of the night between Nic Deslauriers and Michael McLeod. It was quite a tilt that went on longer than one might expect, with Deslauriers coming out on top. That marked fight number eight for Deelo, which leads the NHL, but he’ll have to start putting in some overtime to reach 82 fights in 82 games.

Before I (sentient blog) could finish writing that paragraph, Joel Farabee, Yung Beez himself, dropped the gloves with Brendan Smith for the second fight of the game. Stick throwing, fist throwing—what other oddities await us in Newark, New Jersey? A Flyers win?

With 4:49 to go, the Devils went on the power play, and the Flyers put up a respectable PK effort until TK buried Jack Hughes with a crosscheck in the neutral zone—New Jersey’s turn to give 5-on-3 a go. Nothing doing for the Devils with two extra men, and Nick Seeler stormed out of the penalty box with a shorthanded breakaway opportunity that didn’t go in.

By some miracle, the Flyers killed off all those penalties, and the second period would end tied at one. However, the Devils had double the shots on goal, with 30 to the Flyers’ 15.

Third Period

This third period looked a lot like the first: the Devils outshooting the Flyers by a wide margin and dominating possession. Hart, once again, made several astounding saves to keep the game tied; he might’ve been the only Flyer who showed up to play tonight. Kevin Hayes, apparently, did not show up to play, as Torts benched him for the entirety of the third period. That’s the second time this season Hayes has been benched during a game, the previous time during the third period match against the San Jose Sharks.

The momentum for the Devils went to another level after Noah Cates made a huge hit on Ryan Graves against the boards. There was no penalty, but the Devils were irate and started taking it to the Flyers with big hits of their own and numerous scoring chances—so of course, because this is hockey, the team getting shelled ended up being the one that scored. A really good defensive play by Cates sent Konecny up center ice, and he beat Vanecek clean. With 8:14 remaining, 2-1 Flyers. Somehow.

With a few minutes left to go in the third, New Jersey pulled Vanecek, and the puck pummeling began once again. Try as the Flyers might to clinch with the empty netter, they kept icing the puck (so many whistles), allowing the Devils to regroup and keep pushing. The Devils might’ve succeeded in dragging the game to overtime, too, if Carter (expletive) Hart wasn’t playing like a dark horse Vezina candidate. If giving the Philadelphia Flyers a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils despite being outshot 49-24 doesn’t qualify Hart for superhero status, nothing does.

The Flyers are back at it again on Saturday against another Metro Division rival, the New York Rangers. See ya then.