Carter Hart’s 3-0 shutout vs. Red Wings extends Flyers’ winning streak to three games

Tribune Content Agency

PHILADELPHIA — The Detroit Red Wings came storming toward the net, but Carter Hart flew one way and then the other to make a last-minute save and preserve his shutout in Flyers’ 3-0 win on Saturday.

It was his second shutout of the season, his first since a 4-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 28.

After their record slid to fifth-worst in the league, the Flyers are now on a five-game point streak, and a three-game winning streak, lifting them two spots in the standings.

The Red Wings started the game with significantly more looks than the Flyers, but they couldn’t execute and didn’t record a shot on goal. The Flyers had a similar issue once they grabbed momentum, however.

Hart held on through a sloppy start to the second, giving his teammates a chance to regroup. After a lost defensive zone faceoff, Kieffer Bellows retrieved the puck and connected with Owen Tippett to generate a rush. Tippett wasn’t able to get a shot off on the initial attempt, but he tried again. Bellows finished on his rebound for his third NHL goal 10 minutes into the second.

After another lost defensive-zone faceoff, Rasmus Ristolainen got the puck out of the zone, finding Scott Laughton behind the Red Wings’ defense. After a brief hesitation, Laughton beat Alex Nedeljkovic with a snap shot.

The Red Wings came close to ending the shutout in the third period. They came around the back door on a wide-open net, but Laughton came up with the shot block. The Red Wings had a two-minute power play and then pulled their goalie with three minutes left. Despite their man-advantage, they fell further behind thanks to Tyson Foerster’s empty-net goal.

Pesky penalty killers

Forty-five seconds after the Flyers escaped a penalty for too many men on the ice with just one shot on goal, they went straight back on the kill. The Flyers had to spend four minutes shorthanded thanks to the blood Adam Erne left on the ice after Tony DeAngelo’s high stick.

In the first few minutes, the Red Wings created a number of dangerous looks but couldn’t execute. However, the Flyers regrouped and went on the attack. For the final two minutes, they were all over the puck and easily made it back to full strength without giving up a goal.

That kill shifted momentum toward the Flyers. The next period, they killed another power play despite having penalty killer Noah Cates in the box and had more clears than shots against.

Laughton said they’ve made some adjustments, trying to be more aggressive to keep power plays from getting into their structure. He also shouted out the young players who aren’t typically penalty killers and stepped up following injuries to key guys. The Flyers killed 14 penalty minutes.

“Got plenty of practice today,” coach John Tortorella said.

Bad entries

The Flyers looked better a man down than a man up. They might have had the advantage, but they seemed to exert more energy on the power play than the penalty kill because they repeatedly had to retrieve the puck after the Red Wings cleared it.

The Red Wings dominated faceoffs, and the Flyers struggled on their entries, allowing Detroit to clear the puck. On attempted controlled entries, the Red Wings’ sticks knocked the puck right back over the blue line. On dumps, the Red Wings beat the Flyers to the puck. The Flyers finished with two shots on goal across three power plays — and they weren’t good ones.

The Flyers finally scored after Foerster’s penalty sent the Flyers back to even-strength on a four-on-four.

Laughts’ lighter legs

Tortorella has leaned heavily on Laughton this season. Laughton is the de facto captain. He’s a penalty killer. He’s played up and down the lineup. He’s played multiple positions. He’s even penalty killed. Laughton probably wouldn’t agree, but Tortorella feels he’s “ground him into the ground.”

After playing Laughton over 20 minutes per night in the last six games, Tortorella has played him less than 19. Laughton is on a three-game goal streak and has scored four points in five games. All three goals have showcased Laughton’s speed as he beat defenders and scored on the rush.

Laughton played more minutes Saturday because of all the penalty killing, but Tortorella said he wants to continue keeping Laughton at the 13-16 minute mark.

“But in the situation we’re in and what I’ve done to him, I’m going to stay with this a little bit,” Tortorella said. “He’s not going to be happy about it, but that’s gonna be good enough for him.”

What’s next?

The Flyers host the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. … Foerster and Egor Zamula will return to the AHL to help the Lehigh Valley Phantoms with their playoff push.