The Philadelphia Flyers upset the Carolina Hurricanes on the road, toppling the best team in the league.
Defensively speaking, the Flyers can hang with the Hurricanes. The Flyers are the second-best in the league in team defense. In every other sense, the Hurricanes should’ve rolled. That wasn’t the case on Friday night.
Alain Vigneault shifted key lines to penetrate the offensive zone and score goals. Joel Farabee moved to the third line, breaking up one of the better performing trios of forwards. Debatably, that decision seems like the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. However, Farabee matched up nicely with Brett Pesce out.
Carter Hart went head-to-head against the best goaltender in the NHL, Frederik Andersen. All season, Vigneault has mentioned that Hart “gives the team a chance.” Tonight, he did exactly that.
The Carolina Hurricanes showed up as advertised, but the Philadelphia Flyers matched the energy. That much is critical, especially in a must-win game. A pyrrhic victory would mean the Flyers “hung in there with” the Hurricanes.
Through the first period, Philadelphia did that. From the cheap seats, veterans were showing substantial tenacity. Claude Giroux robbed rubber by skating directly through sticks. Justin Braun played the way Rasmus Ristolainen advised the defense would; “tight and hard.”
Carter Hart was masterful in the opening twenty minutes. He made the penalty kill feel as if they weren’t a man down. Hart is in that kind of groove. To finish the period, he doubled-down on Jordan Stall, stonewalling his breakaway. After one period, the scoreboard shows nothing, but the Flyers begin the second on the powerplay.
Beginning the second period, the Philadelphia Flyers had an extended powerplay but couldn’t establish entries. The Carolina Hurricanes penalty kill smothered the Flyers. Both teams finished the period 4/4 on the penalty kill.
Carter Hart and Frederik Andersen are critical to both penalty kill teams. They were electric throughout this game. Jordan Staal had to get unconventional to set up Steven Lorentz. A flip pass served at the perfect height staged a mid-air one-timer. The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead.
Soon after, Seth Jarvis broke his stick when he attempted to bat the puck into the net. He initially scored, but the play was ruled offside.
A little bit of luck kept Philadelphia in this game.
Opening the period, Carter Hart made 28 saves to Frederik Andersen’s 13. The Philadelphia Flyers needed to begin pressing the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Flyers were opportunistic. Scott Laughton opened up the scoring, and Justin Braun kept on performing. The bottom six came alive in a time where Philadelphia’s scoring lived on the top line.
To tie the game, Laughton banked a pass off the boards to Joel Farabee. In one motion, Farabee swept through and beat Andersen. There was brand new life in Alain Vigneault’s lineup. The Hurricanes outworked the Flyers but didn’t get the bounces they needed.
Zack MacEwen scored his first in Philadelphia. It counts as the game-winner. Braun threw a wrist shot on the net, and MacEwen got the deflection. Credit where it’s due; Carolina never skipped a beat. Hart was better than the Hurricanes’ best shot.
MacEwen, Farabee, and Hart stole two points from Carolina, 2-1.
Next up, the Philadelphia Flyers travel to take on the Dallas Stars tomorrow at 8pm.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre