Hart shuts out the Canucks in Flyers home opener

Flyers' Yegor Zamula celebrates.
Philadelphia Flyers’ Egor Zamula, second from right, reacts to his goal with teammates during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

‘A New Era of Orange’ blossomed beautifully at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Philadelphia Flyers hosted the undefeated Vancouver Canucks. On Monday, Rick Tocchet mentioned how a team coached by John Tortorella will, in essence, outwork opponents.

“It’s a John Tortorella team. They’re going to work their butts off. I have to be honest, they got good forwards.”

Rick Tocchet; 10/16/2023

Seizing scoring opportunities and draining the Canucks of momentum was the recipe Tortorella wanted. Similarly, as they did in the season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Flyers pushed the Canucks on their heels. Here’s how it all happened at the Wells Fargo Center:

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Vancouver Canucks

Rasmus Ristolainen did not make his season debut. He remains sidelined with a minor undisclosed injury. Earlier this week, Ristolainen skated but didn’t participate in practice.

Sean Couturier, a game-time decision, did stay in the lineup. Tortorella decided to deploy Tyson Foerster and Bobby Brink into the lineup. The odd-man-out was Morgan Frost, a healthy scratch.

Yegor Zamula gave the Flyers an early lead, scoring his first NHL goal. Scott Laughton attempted to set a one-timer for Travis Konecny, but the pick tipped off the stick directly to Zamula. Waiting for his shooting lane to open, Zamula lined his shot past Thatcher Demko from the point, 1-0, with 18:15 remaining in the first period.

“I worked the whole summer developing more offense. I like playing the blue line in the offensive zone.”

Yegor Zamula; 10/17/2023

Before Zamula scored, Demko was flopping in the crease, exerting effort to keep the puck out of the net. Cam Atkinson had a clear shooting lane from the slot, but Demko made the save. Demko managed the scoring chances, but then Couturier drew a penalty on a breakaway opportunity. He was awarded a penalty shot.

Couturier had a one-on-one chance to extend the lead versus Demko. He didn’t miss, backskating toward the crease, then pivoting angles before scoring, 2-0, with 2:37 remaining in the first period. Just when it felt both clubs were putting forth an even effort, Couturier did his job to serve the Flyers momentum before the second period. The Canucks controlled possession but not the scoreboard.

Flyers' Sean Couturier
Philadelphia Flyers’ Sean Couturier, left, makes a penalty shot against Vancouver Canucks’ Thatcher Demko, right, during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

If not for the goals scored, the most impressive nuance to the pulse of this game was how dominant the Flyers were in the second period. Again, Demko had to make acrobat saves. In the opening minutes of the second period, the Canucks were lucky to just trail by two. Joel Farabee and Garnet Hathaway, like Atkinson, both had credible shots on goal saved by Demko. Philadelphia outshot Vancouver in the middle frame, 22-3.

“We did an unbelievable job keeping the pressure on them; establishing our forecheck, throwing pucks to the net, generating some chances off rebounds, [and] making some plays. We played real well tonight.”

Carter Hart; 10/17/2023

Conor Garland nearly spoiled the shutout bid from Carter Hart in the third period. Garland had Hart off the ice, in the air, unable to complete the save. As the puck found the back of the net, Tortorella challenged for goaltender interference. The ruling was overturned to keep the Canucks off the scoreboard.

“We got two of the best with Finney and AP. We looked at it, and I’m waiting for them to give me the go-ahead. They make the call, but when we looked at it, it was pretty obvious to me that he’s pushed in, and the puck follows. We waited it out. I thought the refs did a good job. I think they do a really good job in giving all coaches in the league a chance to look at it, and they made the right call.”

John Tortorella; 10/17/2023

In the final minutes of regulation, the game was chippy. Marc Staal and Noah Juulsen clashed after Staal was penalized for boarding. Sam Lafferty put the puck in the net after the whistle on Hart, to which Konecny took exception, earning a misconduct. On special teams, the Flyers were a lot better on the penalty kill, finishing 3/3, but ineffective on the powerplay, going 0/4.

Zamula scored the game-winner in under two minutes. Couturier notched his first goal since December 10th, 2021, against the Vegas Golden Knights. Hart earned his first shutout of the season, saving 25 shots.

Next Up

Next, the Flyers will host the Edmonton Oilers at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday. The puck drops at 7:30pm.

(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)