By Harry Allison
The Flyers are taking their new-found mojo out for a spin tonight at the Wells against the Montreal Canadiens.
Second-year goaltender Carter Hart (above), 21, played one of his strongest games of the season with a 33-save effort against the Hurricanes, one of the most formidable offensive teams in the league. Hart had been inconsistent in recent games and benched recently in favor of backup Brian Elliott.
“It’s a long season,” Hart said. “You’re playing almost every second night. So in a game like this, in the hockey business, you get the chance whether you win or whether you lose to come out in two nights and write a new chapter.”
On offense, 22-year-old Travis Konecny scored his seventh goal of the season and 19-year-old Joel Farabee connected for his second goal against Carolina. Defenseman Ivan Provorov also stabilized the power play, which went 1 for 3. Entering Tuesday’s game, the Flyers’ power play ranked eighth in the league.
“I think for the most part we’ve worked on it on a consistent basis,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “It’s been a good weapon for us. It’s gotten us momentum. It’s gotten us some big goals. It needs to continue.”
The win came largely because of Hart’s stellar effort in goal. The Flyers will need a repeat performance to extend their winning streak to two against the Canadiens.
“I thought he played unbelievable tonight,” Farabee said of Hart. “He was a big reason we got that win. Having that confidence as a team is really good. You know that when they get their chances, he’ll be ready for it. It’s good to know he’s in your corner and he’s going to bail you out.”
The Canadiens will provide a huge challenge when they visit the Flyers, especially after coming off a thrilling 5-4 home win over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.
Head coach Claude Julien was behind the bench for his 1,200th game and left with the team’s eighth victory this season. Ben Chiarot’s late goal lifted Montreal, which has won four of five. Victor Mete led the scoring with a pair of goals for the Canadiens.
Despite the victory, the Canadiens were sloppy at times and blew 3-1 and 4-3 leads before rallying. Goaltender Carey Price had one of his most difficult games this season and special teams were also an issue.
“I’m standing here tonight telling you that there’s still a lot of work that we need to do with our team,” Julien told the Montreal Gazette. “You see those things when you play a good team like Boston. It’s not so much about our skating, it’s not so much about our offensive game. It’s really about killing plays, minimizing. We gave them some momentum at times that if you want to become a really good hockey club you got to get better in those areas. And we will. That’s what a young team does.”
For instance, a major positive was Mete’s improvement. Mete, who went 127 games before he scored his first goal, has since scored three goals in nine games.
“I felt definitely more were going to come,” Mete said of the goals. “I wasn’t really feeling any pressure. Just a lot of the chances I’m getting are starting to go in.”