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Philly sports scene: Hart’s win streak continues

Image: “Flyers at Rangers (1/29/19)” by Jess Starr is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Caption: Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom pictured here warming up before a game against the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden. He is one of the Flyer’s young talent that has visibly improved his play on this recent run. 

The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday by a score of 6-2. The win was a good bounce back victory, because the team ended their winning streak at eight games after falling to the Los Angeles Kings in an overtime shootout on Thursday by a score of 3-2.

In the game against the Kings, a late goal by Jakub Voracek forced overtime and acting goalkeeper Anthony Stolarz made several big saves in overtime to keep Philadelphia alive, but the Flyers could not finish the job in the shootout. The loss was the team’s first in a shootout this season.

However, against the Ducks, Philadelphia came out hot scoring four goals in the first period with tallies by Phil Varone, Sean Couturier and two by Oskar Lindblom. Two more goals would come from Nolan Patrick and Travis Konecny, and Carter Hart had 30 saves on 32 shots for a .938 save percentage in an overall dominate performance.

Despite the Flyers’ impressive winning streak coming to an end, the club has become only the fifth team in the league to record a point in 10 consecutive games. The Flyers currently sit six points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with 57 points and a record of 25-23-7. With an important match against the Penguins slated for Monday night, Philadelphia will need to continue hitting their stride in several of the key areas that helped them during the win streak.

First and foremost, Carter Hart needs to get as much playing time as possible. Aside from the occasional night off for rest, it appears like that is going to be the plan heading forward. During the eight game win streak Hart had posted 2.40 goals-against average, a .934 save percentage and a league leading 241 saves. Since New Year’s Day, Hart has a record of 9-2-1 when behind the net, and with his 6-2 over the Ducks, Hart became only the second NHL goalie ever to win eight straight games before his 21st birthday. He has been a huge factor in the revitalization of the season, and it appears that he is the savior in goal that the Flyers’ faithful have waited a decade for.

In addition to Hart’s hot streak, the Flyers’ offense will need to continue to win close game in the third period. Earlier in the season, the Flyers looked disoriented and skittish during close games. Now, however, the offense seems to be rallying around Hart in tight situations like the game against the Edmonton Oilers, where the Flyers scored two come-from-behind goals in the third and also went four for five on the powerplay. During head coach Scott Gordon’s 22 games at the helm, Philadelphia has won nine one-goal games, proving they aren’t giving up without a fight.

On Monday night, the Flyers will play the Penguins in a crucial matchup that could propel the Flyers on a legitimate push for that final wild card spot. The Carolina Hurricanes (62 points) and the Buffalo Sabres (61 points) are also ahead of Philly in the race for the final wild card spot, but the Flyers will still play the Sabres once more and the Hurricanes twice before the season is over. 

With a win against the Penguins on Monday night, Philadelphia would be in a prime position for yet another late season push for the playoffs.

Andrew Heller is a second-year graduate student majoring in English.

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