The Flyers rolled the Kraken, 6-1, Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Never a doubt, right?
The Flyers weren't so certain they'd be victorious without a Carter Hart save only 8:25 minutes into the game. Hart strapped on his cape and sprung across the crease to deny Jordan Eberle at the doorstep. The game was still scoreless at the time. Hart's heroic dive shot the Flyers out of a cannon. They scored 53 seconds later and three goals total in the next six-plus minutes.
They never looked back.
"He’s a right-handed shot so he had to kind corral it and put it back on net," Hart said. "Just desperation and just tried to get over there and throw my body at it."
Did Hart's save change the complexion of the game?
"One hundred percent," Derick Brassard said. "If they score on that play, it's a totally different game. I think right after, the shift after, we scored and it gave us a big boost to our bench. After that, we were playing four lines of hockey, in their face, we we were all over them and that’s something that we talked about before the game. That’s what we did tonight."
The sprawling stop stole the thunder from Hart's save on Joonas Donskoi's breakaway just 1:35 minutes into the night.
"I don’t think we were playing great, they were forechecking hard, they were taking it to us in the first five, six minutes," Ryan Ellis said. "I think the breakaway save and then followed up by that save. I mean, that's got to be a save of the year candidate, that was something special. Almost immediately, it seemed to turn from there and that’s kind of when we started to attack a little bit more. It’s great to get life from your goaltender like that and know that he's able to make saves like that when they matter."
Timely saves in the first period were a staple to the Flyers' 2019-20 success. The club got them often. It did not get them in 2020-21, when the Flyers surrendered more goals than any other team in hockey with 3.52 per game. The Flyers' alarming goal-prevention issue was a collective, length-of-the-rink problem last season.
The save Hart made Monday night can do wonders for the confidence of the skaters in front and the guy between the pipes.
"It could've been two to nothing for them early on," Claude Giroux said. "You saw the bench, guys got a little bit more motivated and we started playing."
Alain Vigneault believed Hart bailed out the Flyers.
"In our start, we made two major mistakes and we got two big saves right off the hop," the Flyers' head coach said. "A breakaway, a tip — not two, it was three great saves — and then the one where Carter just threw himself. I mean, that’s basically the difference — if they score, they get a little confidence and a little bit more energy."
Hart has made 58 saves on 63 shots through two games (1-0-1). It's a positive start for the 23-year-old following his adversity-filled 2020-21 season when he didn't look or feel like himself.
When the Flyers watched him go airborne Monday night, they saw Hart looking like himself.
"It doesn't surprise us," Travis Konecny said. "He battles and competes for some of those saves all the time. We see it day to day in practice when he makes those unbelievable saves. We're not surprised he does things like that but, yeah, when he does it, he definitely wows everybody and you realize how talented he is."
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