In the latest edition of Top Flyte, where Philly Sports Network brings you in-depth analysis of the greatest Philadelphia Flyers games of the 2019-20 season (in no particular order), we take a look at the October 9, 2019 matchup against the New Jersey Devils.
This was the first meeting of the season between the Flyers and their division rivals from the Garden State; a team that had a great deal of hype surrounding them when October rolled around.
The New Jersey Devils (0-1-1) had made some significant moves during the summer. In June, they acquired the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft: USA Hockey star forward Jack Hughes. On the second day of the draft, the Devils traded for 2013 Norris Trophy-winner P.K. Subban. New Jersey would also go on to add former Philadelphia Flyer Wayne Simmonds and Kontinental Hockey League stand-out Nikita Gusev.
As for the Flyers, they had just returned home from an eventful 2019 NHL Global Series. This included a stunning upset to Lausanne HC on September 30th in an exhibition matchup in Lausanne, Switzerland, and a convincing victory against the Chicago Blackhawks for the regular-season opener in Prague, Czech Republic on October 4th.
It was finally time for the Flyers 2019-20 home opener and fans could not have asked for a more exciting matchup. Premature forecasts of a potential 2020 Stanley Cup playoff series between the two clubs were already buzzing around the Wells Fargo Center.
Once the puck touched the ice, the game belonged to the orange and black.
After a scoreless first half of the contest, Ivan Provorov got things started for the Flyers with a power play goal. After collecting a surgical pass from Matt Niskanen, Provy executed a gorgeous slap shot along the half-wall that was just too much for Devils goalie Cory Schneider, who was also being screened by Oskar Lindblom.
Just 33 seconds into the third period during another Flyers’ man advantage, Kevin Hayes retrieved the puck from a faceoff pileup and registered his first goal as a Philadelphia Flyer. Claude Giroux assisted on the tally and recorded his first point of the season.
About 24 seconds later, Sean Couturier gave the Flyers a 3-0 lead with his first goal of the campaign. Ivan Provorov kept the play alive by collecting the puck before it crossed over the blue line, driving toward the net on Schneider’s right side and firing a shot. The puck bounced off the chest of the Devils’ netminder, was corralled by Oskar Lindblom, and swept over to a wide-open Couturier who put it home.
The hard-fought assist would become Ivan Provorov’s 100th career NHL point. A tremendous achievement for the young Russian blueliner, who was just 22 years old at the time.
With 8:14 remaining in the third period, thanks to some relentless forechecking by Travis Konecny and Sean Couturier and Devils’ forward Kyle Palmieri losing an edge, T.K. came up with the puck and dangled it past Corey Schneider for his third goal in two games. Including the exhibition match against Lausanne HC, it was his sixth goal in three contests.
Despite the Flyers’ offensive clinic, the key player on this night would be goalie Carter Hart. The 21-year-old logged his first NHL shutout by stopping all 25 shots he faced from the Devils. Hart became the youngest player in franchise history to record a shutout. This historic performance included one of the greatest saves of the NHL season which came late in the second period during a Devils’ 5 on 3. Carter Hart straight up robbed a wide-open Taylor Hall and with the help of the Flyers’ penalty kill unit, swung momentum back onto Philly’s side.
The Flyers could not have asked for a better way to start their season. They collected their first of 25 home victories in the shortened 2019-20 season, were off to a great start (2-0-0) and showed Philadelphia and the rest of the hockey world that this season was going to be something truly special.
What other games from the 2019-20 Flyers season will make the Top Flyte list? Keep a close eye on Philly Sports Network for more of the Top Flyte series as well as the most up-to-date Philadelphia Flyers news and information.
Mandatory Credit – Eric Hartline, USA Today Images
Contributor for the Flyers division at Philly Sports Network, graduate of York College of Pennsylvania and a fan of all things hockey. Follow me on Twitter @ChadWalkerPSN