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Hurricanes 6, Flyers 5: Carter Hart injured in relief of rookie Samuel Ersson

As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Flyers.

Philadelphia Flyers v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Josh Lavallee/NHLI via Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers entered Friday night’s tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes with hopes of earning a win for their promising rookie netminder making his NHL debut. Instead, the Flyers lost, their young goalie was embarrassed in his first NHL start, and Carter Hart, who has been the team’s most valuable player all season, exited the game in the second period with an injury caused by one of his own teammates.

Needless to say, it probably won’t be a very merry Christmas for the Flyers this year.

The Flyers fell to the Hurricanes by a score of 6-5 at PNC Arena, and it’s possible they could be without one of their best players on the active roster for some time.

Hart got the start Thursday afternoon against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and under normal circumstances, regular backup Felix Sandstrom would’ve been the man defending the crease to close out the Flyers’ back-to-back set. However, Sandstrom did not join the Flyers on their trip due to an illness, so goalie prospect Samuel Ersson earned the first start of his NHL career in his place.

Unfortunately, the 23-year-old rookie had a night to forget in Carolina. The Hurricanes pelted Ersson with 22 shots before the game’s midway point, and five of those shots ended up finding the back of the net. After the fifth goal, Ersson was pulled in favor of Hart.

Minutes later, Ersson re-entered the game after defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen shoved Hurricanes forward Seth Jarvis into Hart (which resulted in the Hurricanes’ sixth goal, by the way). Hart stayed down on the ice for over a minute before he was helped to the dressing room. He did not return.

Hart has been one of the few bright spots on this Flyers team all season. The 24-year-old had a 2.87 goals against average and .911 save percentage entering Friday night’s tilt — not exactly stellar numbers, but impressive given the quality of the team playing in front of him.

If Hart is out for more than just a few games, the Flyers’ best goalie options will be Felix Sandstrom and Ersson, who have a combined 15 games of experience at the NHL level.

Ersson finished the night with 25 saves on 30 shots faced.

Ristolainen, who shoved Jarvis into the Flyers’ No. 1 goalie, had a particularly disastrous performance. Not only did Ristolainen inadvertently take out Hart, but he was also on the ice for a pair of goals against, including a Jesper Fast goal in which he was caught puck watching.

Ironically, 28 games into the campaign, Ristolainen did manage to log his first point of the season — a primary assist — on a long-range goal from Nick Seeler in the third period. So that’s nice.

Seeler’s goal ended up sparking a furious push from the Flyers in the game’s final 13 minutes. Just 42 seconds after Seeler’s tally, Scott Laughton scored shorthanded to make it a two-goal game, and Travis Konecny then scored a shorthanded marker of his own with 12:24 remaining in regulation to make Hurricanes fans in attendance awfully quiet. Unfortunately, the Hurricanes were able to stave off the Flyers’ late push and earn the win in regulation.

No loser point for the Flyers on this night, though their gutsy effort in the third period does deserve some admiration.

The Flyers won’t play again until after the Christmas break, and as has become routine in recent seasons, the Flyers will head out west for three games as Disney on Ice invades Wells Fargo Center. They’ll next face off against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday before trekking south to take on the Los Angeles Kings and wrapping up the trip against the Anaheim Ducks.