Hart bounces back, Flyers avoid collapse for needed win over defending champs


Carter Hart rebounded and the Flyers, desperate for a win, pulled one out over the Avalanche with a 5-3 decision Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Travis Sanheim, Tanner Laczynski, Tony DeAngelo, Owen Tippett and Travis Konecny all found the back of the net for the Flyers, who came in scoring a league-low 2.36 goals per game.

Scott Laughton and Kevin Hayes finished with two assists apiece. Sanheim had a two-point game.

The Flyers (9-12-5) moved to 2-2-0 on their five-game homestand.

Prior to the home swing, they had lost 10 consecutive games (0-7-3).

"You're desperate for a win at any time right now, especially with our record," DeAngelo said. "We've got to keep finding ways to get points in the standings. If you look at the Eastern Conference, there's really not too crazy of a hill to climb.

"We've just got to keep finding a way. But can't look too far ahead — one at a time is good."

An even-strength goal for Mikko Rantanen and a 6-on-5 goal for Alex Newhook made things dicey for the Flyers in the final two and a half minutes.

Hart then made a big stop on a redirect attempt, which led to Konecny's empty-net goal to finish things off.

"Situational play is a very important part of teaching," head coach John Tortorella said. "I've got a number of clips — and I haven't even looked at the tape — I already know that I'm going to pull out for that type of stuff.

"There are certain things in hockey games that we have to get better at. It's not just outscoring a team; it's understanding situations. I think that helps you, as you keep growing as a team, to be a more consistent team. That's part of building an identity as far as situational play and what's to be expected."

Tortorella's club carried over the effort that it had liked from Saturday against the Devils despite stomaching a frustrating loss.

The Flyers didn't help themselves with penalties Monday night. They put Colorado on five power plays but playing with fire didn't burn them because of Hart and some offense.

"Our special teams was big tonight," Hart said.

The Avalanche (13-9-1), already banged up similar to the Flyers, had Nathan MacKinnon for only 4:58 minutes Monday. The superstar center left the game during the first period with an upper-body injury and did not return.

The Flyers see Colorado again next Tuesday in Denver.

• Hart vowed to be better and he was, converting 29 saves against the defending Stanley Cup champs.

Hart made a costly mistake in the third period of the Flyers' 3-2 loss Saturday to the Devils. The 24-year-old took responsibility for the defeat.

Tortorella would not pin it on his goalie.

"I certainly don't blame Carter," the head coach said Monday during his team's morning skate. "One hand washes the other. He bails us out, we bail him out. We had an opportunity and we didn't."

He has been impressed by Hart's maturity and preparation.

"When I first came here, I had some people talk to me about where he's at teammate-wise, how he handles himself in certain situations, the ebbs and flows of a long season at that position," Tortorella said. "I haven't seen a hiccup in that part of his game. In the mental, in the presentation of who he is, I haven't seen a hiccup at all."

Against Colorado, Hart turned away Cale Makar during the third period as the Norris Trophy winner came in all alone.

He made a superb save on a Martin Kaut breakaway to keep the Flyers ahead 3-1 with 4:30 minutes left in the second period.

Hart also had a clutch first period, stopping 14 of 15 shots. The goal he surrendered was a Newhook power play marker.

"He's kept us in it every night, he's given us a chance to win," Nick Seeler said Monday morning. "Him being critical on himself just shows his character and his competitiveness and what he brings every night. That's what you want in a goaltender — to be competitive and not want to let one single shot in. He's been great for us all year. That's all we can ask for."

Avalanche netminder Alexandar Georgiev stopped 29 of the Flyers' 33 shots.

• The Flyers' power play is 3 for 6 over the last two games.

It was 2 for 34 in the previous 12 games.

DeAngelo cushioned the Flyers' lead to 3-1 with a man advantage marker early in the second period. 

Tippett added important insurance in the third period on the power play.

• Given their lack of true scoring weapons up front, the Flyers are in big-time need of offense from the back end.

Sanheim is starting to provide it. He has nine points in his last nine games (three goals, six assists).

Is Tortorella beginning to see what Sanheim can do with the puck?

"At times," he said.

Want to see more, though?

"Yup," he said.

• The Flyers got a huge play from fourth-liner Patrick Brown with two minutes left in the first period.

Brown blocked a shot, sprung Joel Farabee with a bank pass and it resulted in Laczynski's rebound goal.

It sent the Flyers into first intermission with a 2-1 edge. They haven't had the chance to play with many leads.

In the third period, Laczynski hobbled to the bench. After testing out what was hurting him during a stoppage, he eventually made his way up the tunnel for evaluation.

• James van Riemsdyk feels "relatively close" to returning for the Flyers. He has missed the past 20 games while recovering from a broken left index finger.

"A lot of going by the feel and managing the different things that come with it," the winger said after the Flyers' morning skate Monday. "You're trying to get to a point where you can function and play. It may not be perfect right off the hop, but if I can go out there and contribute, things like that, that's just what I'm focused on."

• The homestand wraps up Wednesday when the Flyers host the Capitals (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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