Flyers

Flyers

This is why Carter Hart is different.

As Jakub Voracek addressed reporters near the doorway of the Flyers' dressing area, Hart, with a smile on his face, quietly snuck back into the room.

Hart had just given up four goals in the third period as a party at the Wells Fargo Center turned into an all-out panic. A 5-1 lead vanished into the air when the fourth goal hit the back of the net with seven seconds remaining in regulation.

By the sound of their collective gasp, Flyers fans were in a state of disbelief. After all, this was so unlike Hart, who has quickly spoiled a goalie-starved city. The 20-year-old entered Saturday's action 8-1-0 with a 2.44 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in his previous nine outings. Through 18 games, he had allowed four goals just three times.

Travis Konecny softened the blow for Hart by scoring 1:27 into overtime, buoying the Flyers to a 6-5 victory over the Red Wings that felt like the great escape (see observations).

Afterward, Hart could have sulked, he could have sought pity. He could have easily scurried away following his postgame interview.

Instead, he smiled and hugged his buddy Connor Parkkila. The 7-year-old boy, who has autism, is one of his biggest fans going back to Hart's junior hockey days with the WHL's Everett Silvertips. During the summer of 2016, Hart was given No. 79 at his first Flyers development camp after being drafted in the second round.

 

Back in Everett, Parkkila was already rocking a No. 79 Flyers jersey.

He is why Hart decided to keep the number.

Parkkila, in town for Saturday's game with his parents, proudly wore his autographed Hart jersey. The signed message from Hart: "Love ya buddy!"


(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

The scene, captured by Flyers senior director of public relations Zack Hill, is why nobody should be concerned with the rookie goaltender. His maturity, professionalism and compassion speak volumes, much louder than one troubling stat line on a Saturday afternoon in which Hart finally showed his age.

"Obviously you don't want to do that with a 5-1 lead," Hart said. "At the end of the day, we got the two points and that's what matters. A little bit dicey there at the end, making it interesting for the other team. For the rest of the game, I thought we played really well. I mean, I've got to do better, too.

"We came out with the two points and that's what matters. We'll build off it and we'll look at what we have to improve."

Hart faced adversity on New Year's Eve when he endured his first NHL benching in his fifth career game. He responded by going 9-3-1 with a 2.39 goals-against average and .931 save percentage over his next 13 starts to propel the Flyers into the playoff race.

He'll get back up from that bad third period.

On the ice Saturday, Hart was far from his best. But off the ice, he was pretty awesome.

It's what makes him different. It's why people aren't worrying about the Flyers in net.

How about that?

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