Against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, the Philadelphia Flyers had the tough task of facing off against a pair of Hart Memorial Trophy winners in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Saturday afternoon with the Nashville Predators in town, the Flyers had to take on another all-world talent — this time a goaltender.
Juuse Saros is one of the top goalies on the planet. The 27-year-old is fresh off his second consecutive appearance at the All-Star Game, and while his win-loss record isn’t exactly mind-blowing, he also hasn’t had much help from the underperforming squad playing in front of him as of late.
Carter Hart can certainly relate to that.
Hart got the start against Saros Saturday. But this time, he was unable to pick up the victory against one of the NHL’s best players at their respective position. Matt Duchene beat Hart just 34 seconds into the overtime period off an odd, bobbling shot to hand the Flyers the 2-1 loss. A less-than-ideal finish for Hart, who otherwise had a strong afternoon.
The Flyers are now 1-9 in overtime this season.
“I don’t even talk about the numbers as far as what the record is. I just talk about each individual game in our meetings. We got a little screwed up in our coverage and it kind of push (Ivan Provorov) back,” said head coach John Tortorella.
“I don’t spend much time worrying about what we are. Just trying to get to where we’re gonna improve.”
After a choppy first period, it was the Predators who drew first blood in the middle frame. Early in the period, Nino Niederreiter got past Travis Sanheim to create a 2-on-1 rush with Duchene. Niederreiter crashed the net and redirected the perfect Duchene feed past Hart for the score. Not a shining moment for Sanheim after his strong performance against the Oilers on Thursday.
Kevin Hayes responded with a goal of his own, though. And it was pretty.
Just after the game’s midway point, Hayes snuck into the Predators zone uncovered for a breakaway, then proceeded to deke Saros out of his skates with the patented Peter Forsberg move. Hayes now has 17 goals and 47 total points on the season.
All-hands team. #NSHvsPHI | @KevinPHayes12 pic.twitter.com/RgN6pWcztE— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) February 11, 2023
Unfortunately, Hayes’ goal ended up being the Flyers’ only tally of the contest. Both teams hit iron multiple times throughout the game, and the Flyers were unable to capitalize on some quality scoring chances — they had their fair share of odd-man rushes and breakaway opportunities. They just couldn’t bury them.
“The part of the game where I wish we were more effective, we had some odd-man rushes and we come up with nothing. We had some chances for a few more scoring plays and we just come up with nothing there,” said Tortorella.
“Take the point, run and get ready for your next game.
With 10 losses beyond regulation, the Flyers are currently tied for second among all teams in loser points. Those points add up, though. The Orange & Black are just six points out of a playoff spot, and with the trade deadline quickly approaching, it complicates what general manager Chuck Fletcher and company may choose to do — or not do — with players on expiring deals (like James van Riemsdyk).
The next two weeks will be very interesting.
The Flyers will be right back in action Sunday afternoon to wrap up their back-to-back set with a 1 p.m. matinee tilt against the Seattle Kraken. The game should wrap up long before kickoff of Super Bowl LVII. The Flyers will then head west for a four-game road trip, starting with a pair of games in the Pacific Northwest — Seattle on Thursday, followed by a tilt against the Vancouver Canucks in British Columbia on Saturday.