Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 44: DAL 1, PHI 2 - JVRn't You Glad They Won a Game?
That's for the NFC East, Dallas! And the Cotton Bowl!
For the first time this year the Philadelphia Flyers WIN, 2-1, in regulation, over the Dallas Not-So-Superstars. Guess someone wants to get called out by their CEO again.
That Jim Lites rant from a weeks ago was pretty funny, scary if you're a Stars fan, and it had a lot of things to refute. One of them was that the Stars where in a playoff spot at the time of it, as they still are right now. But the Stars were often getting outshot, relying on outstanding goaltending to win games. So naturally, against the worst team in the NHL, the Stars get great goaltending from Anton Khudobin, outshot the opposition 38-22, and... lost.
Ironically, the Flyers have usually been on the other end of that spectrum - outshooting their opponents but finding ways to lose, generally thanks to horrid special teams and ineffective goaltending. But the latter is no problem when you have Starter Hart in net, even if the Flyers had a 12 minute stretch in the first without a shot on goal. However, it felt like the game was pretty even, with the Flyers generating some good chances on just 6 shots, which couldn't have more different than the Washington game.
The second period saw the Flyers shoot the same but score more. Thanks to an outstanding behind-the-back backhand pass, Travis Konecny was able to redirect the puck in from right in front of Khudobin to light the lamp for the 2nd time in 4 games. 7 minutes later, faced with the horror of going on an ineffective power play, the Flyers chose to do their damage on a delayed penalty. G's toss to the front of the net was redirected by JVR off the skate of Esa Lindell and in. JVRn't you glad that guy's a Flyer, as he gives his team a 2-0 lead.
While in terms of puck possession and shots on goal the Stars dominated, as play dragged on from the 2nd into the 3rd it was clear the Flyers were still getting chances. They were more spread out than the Stars, but when they came they were juicy. Dallas got some too - Hart made an incredible sliding save on a Klingberg one-timer in the 2nd - but the Flyers came with more regularity. Giroux was unable to finish off a pair of 2-on-1s, but Khudobin's best save was a 2-on-0 stop on TK after getting the puck back from JVR going with him.
Gradually, as the game neared its end the Stars efforts ramped up as the Flyers started to turtle. After several more great Starter Hart saves and a successful penalty kill, the Stars finally found a way to light the lamp with . And it was one of those players that Lites called out - Jamie Benn, the captain - that got loose in the slot, and fired one through a heavy screen by Radulov that Hart got a piece of, but not enough.
This goal had the Flyers dangerously close to blowing it. Not only was the shutout gone, but the team that has always kept finding ways to lose now had a perfect route to another heartbreaking loss. Then Jake Voracek scored out of a net-mouth scramble, sealing the deal and ext-wait never mind that's 100% goalie interference.
The Stars challenge was successful, and so with just under a minute to go they got Khudobin to the bench. The Flyers were running on fumes as they could not buy a clear. But Hart stood tall, kept the puck out, and secured the Flyers first win since December 23rd, ending a 0-6-2 drought.
While I believe that in terms of playoffs this season is a lost cause, and that the team should just tank to maximize their odds of landing Jack Hughes, that doesn't mean this win doesn't feel good. It's hard to root against your favorite team, even if you know it's for the best. I'd love to say I can see the Flyers using this as the slingshot for a long run to put them back into at least the fringes of playoff contention. But assuming that prayer isn't answered, I'll take the joy of victory and the satisfaction of Carter Hart's best performance to date.
The tide of the game almost turned far earlier than TK's goal, and in a completly different way. Early in the 1st, John Klingberg threw a seemingly harmless angle shot on goal that actually hit the top of Hart's stick and careened out of play. An inch either way and it may have been the beginning of a Stars blowout win.
This game featured the #2 and #3 overall picks from 2017, and both stood out in a positive light. Miro Heiskanen was all over the ice for Dallas, but Nolan Patrick stood out too. Late in the 1st, Patrick made an incredibly skilled move at the blueline to create a good scoring chance that Khudobin just shrugged aside. It wasn't good enough to snap his 22-game goalless drought (yikes), but it was a positive step.
Claude Giroux also had a great game. I mentioned he wasn't able to score on a few prime chances, but at least he was creating them. Power play, delayed penalty, even strength, even shorthanded, the captain was all over the ice tonight (and on the scoresheet with a primary assist on JVR's goal).
The 2-0 lead the Flyers held after that JVR goal marked the first time they held a multi-goal lead in 12 games (12/18 vs. Detroit, when they led 3-1 until about 2 minutes into the 3rd).
The Flyers only had one goal in the 2nd period over their 8-game losing streak. They doubled that number tonight.
With time winding down until Brian Elliott and Anthony Stolarz return (around the All-Star break, according to Fletcher), Carter Hart is doing everything he can to stay. He's got a .920 SV% through 8 starts and has been 1st star in 3 of them. Other than that fluke against Carolina, Hart has looked like a true NHL goaltender. He also got the POG helmet tonight. Eat your heart out, Ron.
1st - C. Hart (PHI) - .973 SV% (37 Saves/38 Shots)
2nd - J. van Riemsdyk (PHI) - 1 G, 1 A
3rd - T. Konecny (PHI) - 1 G
DAL - 1/12 vs. STL (17-20-4)
PHI - 1/12 @ NJ (16-20-7)