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Carter Hart shines in debut with Philadelphia Flyers

Carter Hart shines in debut with Philadelphia Flyers
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Carter Hart, the 20-year-old goalie who the Flyers hope will one day be a franchise cornerstone, stopped 20 of 22 shots in his NHL debut Tuesday night, sparking a crisp 3-2 win over Detroit at the energized Wells Fargo Center.

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Carter Hart stopped 20 of 22 shots in his NHL debut Tuesday night against the Detroit Red Wings.  (Matt Slocum / AP)

James van Riemsdyk (two points), Shayne Gostisbehere (two points) and Radko Gudas scored for the Flyers, who snapped a four-game losing streak and gave coach Scott Gordon a victory in his debut with his new team.

Gordon, the former coach of Philadelphia’s AHL affiliate who once directed the New York Islanders, replaced the fired Dave Hakstol on Monday.

The Red Wings cut the deficit to 3-2 when Jacob De La Rose scored from out front with 18 minutes left in regulation as he beat Phil Varone to the puck and whipped a shot past Hart.

They would not get closer.

Hart was named the first star and received a thundering ovation as he skated back on the ice.

Earlier, Hart had to make just one save (on Tyler Bertuzzi) in the first 11-plus minutes, and made eight stops in a first period that ended with the Flyers ahead, 1-0.

Van Riemsdyk deflected Claude Giroux’s shot past backup goalie Jonathan Bernier to give the Flyers the lead with 1:27 left in the first. Bernier was a late replacement for Jimmy Howard, who suffered a back injury in warm-ups.

The Flyers seemed to have a heightened sense of urgency, playing in front of a new coach and a goalie making his highly anticipated debut.

“Obviously, when there’s changes like that, it gets everyone’s attention and we seemed to be pretty sharp,” van Riemsdyk said of the first period.

With Oskar Lindblom in the penalty box for slashing, Detroit tied it as Dennis Cholowski scored from the high slot with 15:48 remaining in the second. Hart appeared screened by Thomas Vanek in front.

A little less than five minutes later, Gudas blasted a shot from above the right circle past Bernier for his second goal in the last 55 games, giving the Flyers a 2-1 lead. The goal was set up by Travis Konecny, who missed more than half of the first period after taking a hit from Michael Rasmussen and going to the locker room for repairs.

Gostisbehere took a slick feed from Nolan Patrick (second point in 15 games) and scored from the slot to push the lead to 3-1 with 4:43 to go in the second. It Gostisbehere’s first goal in 16 games.

Hart, who dominated the Western Hockey League, went through the typical growing pains of a first-year pro this season with the AHL’s Phantoms. He struggled in the first five weeks, then got his game in order. He went 4-1 with a 1.80 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in his last five outings at Lehigh Valley.

That, and injuries to Brian Elliottt and Anthony Stolarz, prompted a call-up — much sooner than expected.

Gordon coached Hart at Lehigh Valley this season. Last month, Gordon had a conversation with then-Flyers general manager Ron Hextall and told him Hart was not ready to play in the NHL.

“Hexy called me about Carter and asked me what my thoughts were,” Gordon said after running the Flyers’ morning skate Tuesday in Voorhees. “I couldn’t confidently say that now would be the right time if it was a must situation (to recall him). Since that time, he’s played five games and every game he’s gotten better. The deficiencies in his game have improved, and I think he’s really starting to become a pro.

“I don’t know if this is the right time or not. Who knows?” Gordon added. “But I know from the way he’s performed the last five games that he’s a better goalie than he was prior to that.”

Hart, perhaps the Flyers’ most hyped prospect since Eric Lindros, became the sixth goalie to play for the team this season, an unwanted franchise record. He became the second-youngest goalie to ever play for the Flyers. Maxime Ouellet was 19 when he played in 2000-01.
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