For the Philadelphia Flyers, the contrast between home-ice advantage and the performance on the road has been the telltale of the season so far. On January 8th, 2020, the Flyers proved to the league on national television that they are more than able to hang tough with elite teams in the NHL. A win over the Washington Capitals, who not only sit atop of the Metropolitan Division but the entire league, proved the dominance Philadelphia displays at the Wells Fargo Center. Featured in the three stars reveal for the Flyers were Travis Konecny and Kevin Hayes. Another key contributor to that win against the Capitals was Carter Hart.
Carter Hart saved 26 of 28 shots in that victory, which equals a 92.8% save percentage. In the first period, Nicklas Backstrom and Jakub Vrana scored for the Washington Capitals. Since Vrana’s goal, Hart battled and kept his team in the game. Both teams had great scoring opportunities, but in victory, Hart outplayed Braden Holtby. When the spotlight shined brightest, Hart didn’t shy away.
His effort doesn’t go unnoticed. After the game, Alain Vigneault took the podium in his post-game press conference and commended the grit that Carter Hart displayed against an explosive team. Fully concentrated on the task at hand; a home game against the best team in the NHL, Vigneault had this to say about his talented goaltender:
“I think Carter would like to have both those goals back. The first one goes through. The second one, a rebound he should have probably had. He battled hard after. A lot of times, it’s not how many saves, but when. In the second and the third, he came up big at big moments and for us, this was an important win. Everybody knows we struggled on the road. Coming back home and playing hard, this was a real character win for us tonight.”Alain Vigneault; 1/8/2020
The Washington Capitals had five powerplays throughout this game and the Philadelphia Flyers were perfect on the penalty kill. Part of that is credited to the penalty kill group, but Carter Hart’s clutch gene was apparent. Those saves, specifically, are included in what Alain Vigneault alluded to when he said: “it’s not how many saves, but when.” Those were big moments in the second period that allowed the Flyers to play the Capitals close. Credit the shorthanded goal by Kevin Hayes to put Philadelphia ahead for the game-winning goal.
A “character win” is absolutely a fitting description. Yes, it was on home ice. However, the first time around at home, the Washington Capitals were victorious. For the Philadelphia Flyers, a home win isn’t a guarantee. It is, however, a better bet than a road win.
Strap back in on Saturday as the Tampa Bay Lightning come to the Wells Fargo Center to test their might against the Orange and Black. It’s important to pick up points on this homestand because of the ground that needs to be made up after the horrid road trip. The Philadelphia Flyers are five points out of second place in the Metropolitan Division. After a day of rest, the Flyers need to be ready to sweep at home to be back in good standings. Until then, enjoy a win against the Washington Capitals the way that Alain Vigneault would: having a martini.
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