Flyers win 9th straight, fortunate to keep pace in Metropolitan Division thanks to Carter Hart, Claude Giroux



Claude Giroux pumped both of his fists on multiple occasions.

Carter Hart made save after save from start to finish.

Those two were the reasons behind the Flyers’ 3-1 win Saturday night over the Sabres at the Wells Fargo Center.

Joel Farabee scored an effort goal to seal the win during the third period after Giroux gave the Flyers another lead prior to the 20-year-old’s insurance tally.

The victory wasn’t aesthetically pleasing but the Flyers (41-20-7) found a way to win their ninth straight game, marking the club’s longest winning streak since Nov. 27-Dec. 14, 2016, when it won 10 in a row.

Win streak aside, this was an important one given the Capitals smacked the Penguins, 5-2, earlier in the day. The Flyers remain a tiebreaker out of first place in the Metropolitan Division behind Washington and ballooned their edge on third-place Pittsburgh to five points.

The Sabres (29-31-8) have lost six straight, while their star center Jack Eichel has gone scoreless during the skid.

• Everyone will say trap game because the Flyers have showdowns with Eastern Conference powers the Bruins and Lightning next week.

During the winning streak, the Flyers have dominated teams, outscoring the opposition 36-16 coming into Saturday’s game.

They weren’t going to sustain that pace to the finish line.

However, if the Flyers want to prove they’re on the same level as Boston and Tampa Bay, they’ll have to play exponentially better than they did against Buffalo, which played far too often in the offensive zone for head coach Alain Vigneault’s liking.

The Flyers were not on their game in terms of crispness, style and execution. It’s not like the effort was awful, though.

• Giroux and Jakub Voracek saved the Flyers offensively. Giroux handed the Flyers the lead in the second and third period, while Voracek notched primary assists on both of the goals.

The Flyers haven’t always needed their big boys to step up but they needed every bit of them Saturday night.

• Once again, Hart held down the fort at the Wells Fargo Center, making 38 saves, 13 of which came during the first period and 15 in the final stanza.

Hart improved to 20-2-2 at home this season, yielding two or fewer goals in 20 of those 24 games. He came into 2019-20 with only 31 games of NHL experience. That’s pretty impressive for his first full season.

If the Flyers can finish in second place or higher to earn a home-ice playoff berth for the opening round, they’ll be tough to beat over a seven-game series because of Hart.

The 21-year-old goalie hasn’t lost a game since Feb. 15 and made history in the process.

• Hart was excellent on two third-period penalty kills. The Flyers forced themselves to play shorthanded three times in the frame.

On the first PK, Philippe Myers blocked a big shot and hobbled off the ice. After going up the tunnel toward the dressing room, he came right back to the bench.

Myers also committed a penalty in the period but the blocked shot was vital.

• Giroux ignited the scoring with a second-period goal midway through the game, giving him his eighth season of 20 or more goals.

The 32-year-old showed off his still-got-it athleticism and skill with the Flyers in much need of an offensive spark.

Buffalo drew even later in the frame as it dissected slow coverage by the Flyers.

• Wayne Simmonds was back in the house with the Sabres, who acquired the former Flyer from the Devils ahead of the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

The 31-year-old power forward can become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

• Below is a statement from Wells Fargo Center public relations regarding the arena’s actions amid coronavirus concerns.

• The Flyers are off Sunday and practice Monday at the Wells Fargo Center (team picture day) before hosting the NHL-leading Bruins Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Everyone remembers Boston’s last trip to Philly (see story).

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