Flyers

Hurricanes 3, Flyers 1: Carter Hart suffers first benching of NHL career

Hurricanes 3, Flyers 1: Carter Hart suffers first benching of NHL career

BOX SCORE

Consider it the kid's first clunker.

Carter Hart stomached the first benching of his NHL career Monday night as he lasted just 22:19 and the Flyers fell to the Hurricanes, 3-1, on New Year's Eve at PNC Arena.

The 20-year-old Hart had made 100 saves on 109 shots over his first four starts but permitted three goals on 10 shots to Carolina and the Flyers couldn't dig out of the hole.

Jakub Voracek scored the Flyers' only goal and it came in the third period.

For the second straight season, the Flyers are in last place of the Metropolitan Division entering New Year's Day. 

Last season, they were 16-14-8 with 40 points and an even goal differential through 38 games. This season, the Flyers are 15-18-5 with 35 points and a minus-25 goal differential through 38 games. 

The Hurricanes (16-17-5), who came in 3-8-2 with eight points since Nov. 30, took Game 1 of the four-game regular-season series with the Flyers. 

• Hart, not looking sharp, was pulled by interim head coach Scott Gordon 2:19 into the second period after yielding a pair of goals.

Hart looked slow to react on both markers and the Flyers weren't great in front of him, either.

The Hurricanes scored just six seconds into the middle stanza after the Flyers actually won the period's opening faceoff. However, Travis Sanheim retreated for a brief second and it cost the Flyers as Jordan Martinook pounced on the puck, split the defensemen and beat Hart to give Carolina a 2-0 advantage.

Could Hart have stopped the shot? Sure, but the Flyers should not be burned down the middle after winning the neutral zone faceoff.

• A little over two minutes later, Hart was yanked when Andrei Svechnikov scored the Hurricanes' third goal on 10 shots. Radko Gudas attempted a stretch pass that was intercepted through the air by Clark Bishop, who quickly attacked the Flyers to create a 3-on-2 and found Svechnikov for the 3-0 lead.

Hart had been providing timely saves on visible, trackable shots. He simply didn't have that in his game Monday, and that's OK. Again, he's 20 years old.

• Hart hadn't allowed many soft goals this season but the one he gave up to Lucas Wallmark midway through the first period was more than stoppable.

Wallmark flung a relatively innocuous shot from straightaway with Gudas in coverage and no one near the net. It beat Hart top shelf on his glove side, almost taking him by surprise a bit.

Still, Hart has allowed just two first-period goals through five starts, which is a major positive. Prior to Monday, he had kept the team in games when things often snowballed on the Flyers before his arrival.

• To the Flyers' credit, they stayed out of the box, for the most part, allowing the Hurricanes just two power-play opportunities. However, the Flyers went 0 for 2 on the man advantage, which is 9 for 91 (9.9 percent) since Oct. 13.

Gordon may have to shake up personnel or positioning to somehow get the power play going.

• Michal Neuvirth took over for Hart and converted 23 saves. Gordon made the right call to pull Hart when he did because the Flyers were still in the game and it saved the rookie from a complete unraveling.

Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney made 22 stops and won his first game since Nov. 27.

• The Flyers are right back at it New Year's Day when they visit the Predators (8:30 p.m./NBCSP), who snapped a six-game losing streak Monday with a 6-3 win over the Capitals.

Tuesday's contest concludes a five-game road trip for the Flyers, who return to the Wells Fargo Center Thursday to again play the Hurricanes (7 p.m./NBCSP).

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Subpar start leads to Flyers loss vs. Lightning but doesn't hurt spot in NHL playoff race

Subpar start leads to Flyers loss vs. Lightning but doesn't hurt spot in NHL playoff race

BOX SCORE

The Flyers didn't bring their A-game to a game they needed it.

There would be no giant killing Saturday as the Flyers lost to the Lightning, 5-3, at Amalie Arena.

Goals from Ivan Provorov, James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux weren't enough for the Flyers (32-20-7), who are 6-3-2 against the Bruins, Lightning, Capitals, Penguins and Blues, the league's top five clubs.

Tampa Bay is the only one the Flyers haven't beaten. They'll get a final crack at the Lightning on March 12 in the same building.

The Lightning (39-15-5) have won 10 straight games.

• This really wasn't a bad loss for the Flyers.

They were at the end of a road trip and playing the NHL's hottest team. Tampa Bay is 22-2-1 over its last 25 games and hasn't lost at home since Dec. 19.

The Flyers entered Saturday with a 66.9 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to Hockey-Reference.com, and still hold an Eastern Conference wild-card spot (see standings).

Alain Vigneault's team just needs to recharge and be ready for a big home-and-home set against the Blue Jackets next week.

• Things got chippy in the second period. Travis Konecny was right in the middle of it all.

Steven Stamkos appeared to trip Giroux before a faceoff. Giroux didn't even look to be that mad about it.

During the final 6:09 of the middle frame, 22 penalty minutes were accrued.

• Brayden Point (10-game point streak) is good at hockey.

• Carter Hart, who was coming off his first road victory since Nov. 10, allowed four goals on 23 shots.

The 21-year-old wasn't the problem.

The first goal was a fluky one by Alex Killorn. On the second, Provorov was sloppy with the puck in the defensive zone and Tampa Bay capitalized to take a 2-0 lead into first intermission.

In the middle stanza, the Lightning beat Hart on a 3-on-2 to grab a commanding 3-0 advantage. Tampa Bay improved to 33-4-3 when it scores three or more goals.

Not only are the Lightning really good, but the Flyers also didn't play their typical forechecking, possession-based game until it was too late.

• Outside of the van Riemsdyk's third-period goal, Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy was strong with 30 saves, 15 of which came in the final stanza. 

Vasilevskiy improved to 18-0-1 with a 1.83 goals-against average and .940 save percentage over his last 19 starts.

• Provorov was far from his best against Tampa Bay but he did score the Flyers' first goal to trim the Lightning's lead to 3-1 in the second period. He also had an assist.

The 23-year-old has grown into a power play quarterback this season. He leads all NHL defensemen with seven man advantage goals after scoring only two over his first three NHL seasons.

• Travis Sanheim played 19:43 minutes Saturday after missing almost the entire third period of Thursday's 6-2 win over the Panthers because of a lower-body issue.

• The Flyers are off Sunday, practice at 11:30 a.m. Monday in Voorhees, New Jersey and host the Blue Jackets Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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Flyers, Lightning have 4 p.m. start on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Flyers, Lightning have 4 p.m. start on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Saturday's game should be a good one.

The Flyers and Lightning are two of the hottest teams in the NHL. Since Jan. 8, the Flyers have the league's most goals (52) and only one team has more points (21) — the Lightning (27).

Tampa Bay is also on a nine-game winning streak and 21-2-1 over its last 24 games.

The big showdown comes a little earlier than usual. Puck drop will be shortly after 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, with Flyers Pregame Live set for 3:30 p.m. ET.

The matchup finishes off a three-game road trip for the Flyers, who then play four of their next five games at the Wells Fargo Center.

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