The outcome might not have been what they wanted but the Flyers took some more encouragement from the play of goaltender Carter Hart in Saturday night’s 4-0 loss to the Flames at Calgary.
Coming into this season there were questions about Hart, especially after his disappointing 2020-21 campaign.
But the 22-year-old netminder, who made his 100th NHL start in the match at Scotiabank Saddledome, is off to a hot start this time around and he’s just about the only reason the Flyers were in this game.
Calgary, just coming off a 5-0-0 road trip in which they never trailed once (only the third NHL team ever to accomplish that feat), peppered Hart with shots all night long but he was up to the task.
Thanks to Hart’s play, the Flyers were only trailing by a 1-0 score heading into the third period.
Two of the three goals allowed by Hart were on power plays. The first was a Sean Monahan shot at 9:11 in the second period. Monahan scored his first goal of the season on a tip-in deflection that Hart had no chance of stopping. The second came on a shot by Matthew Tkachuk at 8:32 of the third period.
Hart struggled a bit on opening night against Vancouver on Oct. 15 but has been sharp pretty much ever since.
“He gave us a chance,’’ coach Alain Vigneault said. “Without him there’s no game. He was the best player on the ice for us in this game. We weren’t able to follow up.’’
Travis Konecny saw it the same way.
“It’s disappointing to put an effort like that in front of him (Hart) because realistically he’s the only reason it ended up that way (close until the end), the score it was,’’ Konecny said. “He made some unbelievable saves. We tried to help him as much as we could but tonight we didn’t help him at all and he kept us in the game. It’s just too bad we couldn’t capitalize for him.’’
Hart, who stopped 32 of 35 shots, didn’t sound too down about the outcome. If the Flyers can play somewhat better in front of him throughout the season, they’re going to be a tough combination to beat.
“All I can control is try and stop the puck,’’ he said. “We know they’re a good team, that top line is pretty skilled. They come at you hard, throw a lot of pucks at the net. The bounces didn’t go our way tonight, not our best but we’ll be better and ready for Tuesday (vs. Arizona).’’
Calgary added an empty-net goal with 3:49 left on the clock. The Flames also scored on Hart with a Johnny Gaudreau shot with two minutes to play.
Vigneault said you had to give credit where credit was due.
“They’re playing extremely tight-checking hockey game,’’ Vigneault said. “Not a lot of room on the ice. When a team plays that way, you’ve got to make plays offensively. The execution has to be at its best. Obviously they took that away from us tonight.’’
Philadelphia took some bad penalties (a total of five infractions in all) and perhaps the killer was one taken by Zack MacEwen which set up the insurance goal by Tkachuk in the third period.
“It was 1-0 going into the third and we took an offensive zone penalty,’’ Vigneault said. “That made it two-nothing. They were the better team tonight. We’re going to have to get it (penalty minutes) under control. There were some I was shaking my head at, I’m not sure they were deserved. But there were some that were deserved, the last two we took were 200-feet from our net were deserved. I thought at the beginning of the third we had some good energy but when you’re trailing a team like that which can play so tight. . .they were the better team.’’
The Flyers finished up the three-game western road trip with a 2-1 mark and now are 4-2-1 on the season. Philadelphia was playing its third game in four nights in three different cities and appeared to run out of gas in the later stages of the game.
Goaltender Jacob Markstrom picked up his third shutout in his sixth game of the season for the Flames.
>Ellis out once again
Defenseman Ryan Ellis (lower-body injury) came along on the three-game road trip with the intention of playing at some point. But the nagging nature of the injury continues and he was scratched once again on Saturday night. Nick Seeler filled in and played with Keith Yandle. Once again, Justin Braun was paired with Ivan Provorov.
Before Saturday night, the Flyers had scored 12 first-period goals over the first six games. Per NHL Stats, it marked the first time since Oct. 6-20, 2011 that they’ve scored 12 first-period goals in any six-game period. It’s only the eighth separate occasion that the Flyers have done it in the last 25 years. . .Sean Couturier scored 22 seconds into the contest on Thursday. Per NHL Stats, that’s the fastest goal the Flyers have scored from the start of the game since November 23, 2011, when Andrej Meszaros scored 18 seconds into a 5-1 win over the Islanders. . .Nicolas Aube-Kubel was a scratch for a second straight game as Patrick Brown and Zach MacEwen played on the fourth line with Nate Thompson. . .Philadelphia entered the game with the fewest shots in second periods in the NHL this season. . .Flyers coach Alain Vigneault tried moving defenseman Keith Yandle up with Ivan Provorov late in the game to try to generate some more offense.