Three games have come and gone in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Montreal Canadiens. After a grotesque beating in game two, Alain Vigneault rallied his troops for an important game three. A day after Carter Hart’s 22nd birthday, Carey Price and the Canadiens collected a 5-0 victory to tie the series. Last night, on Price’s 33rd birthday, Hart returned the favor. The Flyers defeated Montreal, 1-0.
Carter Hart was tested early in game three, which was a great thing after the Philadelphia Flyers’ performance during game two. To regain confidence, it was important for Hart to face the Montreal Canadiens head-on. As the starting lineup graphics were shown, Brett Kulak nearly scored early on. Instead, Jakub Voracek scored the only goal of the game via a deflection. Robert Hagg and Claude Giroux were credited with the assist.
Goalposts and crossbars were on the Philadelphia Flyers side in game three. The Montreal Canadiens could have won this game if they were just a little bit lucky. Carter Hart and Carey Price flexed just how great of goaltenders they are in the second period. During a Canadiens’ powerplay after Travis Konecny was called for a slash, Hart made back-to-back saves on Brendan Gallagher and Shea Weber. Again, Hart made a huge save against Nick Suzuki during a five-on-three powerplay.
Five different shots were a matter of inches away from being certified goals. Both teams had shot totals that hovered in the low twenties. In a defensive battle, luck wins the game. The Philadelphia Flyers were on the better side of the coin as the puck deflected correctly off of Jakub Voracek’s knee. These two teams traded misfortunes from game two to game three.
Playing the Body
One way to beat speed is to take the opposition off their feet. The Philadelphia Flyers were not going to repeat their poor performance from game two. For Alain Vigneault, this meant calling upon Robert Hagg in place of Shayne Gostisbehere. In this 1-0 victory, defense reigned supreme. The Flyers were closing in on forty total hits, and Hagg even tallied an assist.
First Line Roots
Playing with the lineups made a world of difference for the Philadelphia Flyers in game three. As we recall from the round-robin games, the first line neutralizes the best of the opposition. When Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Jakub Voracek work together, they perfect the finer details to secure wins. Forecheck and defense is the strategy the Flyers imposed to regain the series lead. An assist from Giroux on a Voracek goal was due.
It is poetic that Carter Hart becomes the youngest Philadelphia Flyers goaltender to record a playoff shutout against his idol, Carey Price. The bond between Price and Hart is tighter since they both traded shutout victories around the birthdays of each other in the same series. Hart frustrated the Montreal Canadiens in game three. Expect game four to feature another white-knuckle contest.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre