Masterful Hart leads Flyers over Devils; Hayes benched for 3rd period


NEWARK, N.J. — Carter Hart was superb in leading the Flyers to a 2-1 win Thursday night over the Devils at the Prudential Center.

The Flyers needed every bit of their goaltender's brilliance. They were outshot 49-24 but found a way, in large thanks to Hart.

"Like I've been saying all year, Carter Hart keeps us in every game," Travis Konecny said.

Konecny scored the game-winning goal over midway through the third period. Noah Cates collected two assists.

Rasmus Ristolainen made a great defensive play to help seal the Flyers' win in the final seconds.

The Flyers (10-14-7) went 1-1-2 on their four-game road trip. All four games were decided by one goal.

John Tortorella's club had really been fighting it from a win-loss standpoint. The Flyers entered with two wins in their previous 18 games (2-11-5).

This one was needed.

"Find-a-way league," Tortorella said. "We found a way tonight."

The Flyers are 2-1-0 against the Devils (21-7-2) this season. The clubs meet once more Feb. 25, back here in Newark.

"I think we can play with anyone," Scott Laughton said. "We've gone into overtime where the game's gone the other way. If we play physical and hard on our forecheck, get pucks behind them and not make lateral plays at the blue and red [lines], we're a tough team to play against.

"We have a lot of big bodies that go on their D and defensemen don't want to go back for pucks. That's what we did tonight.

"You get four points on the road trip. I know you lose three of them, but you've got to take something from it."

• After not starting Tuesday for the first time since Nov. 26, Hart was back in net.

The 24-year-old was terrific, finishing with a career-high-tying 48 saves. He had 48 earlier this season.

"I just liked his whole demeanor through the game," Tortorella said. "I'm not a goalie coach, but there wasn't a lot of extra movement, he looked calm. It's one of the better games I've seen him play."

Hart had to stop 15 shots in the first period and had 29 saves by the end of the second period.

Jack Hughes' goal was one you tip your cap to as a goalie.

New Jersey netminder Vitek Vanecek stopped 22 of the Flyers' 24 shots.

• The Flyers improved to 2-4-6 when entering the third period in a tied game. For morale, they needed this one badly.

"Coach challenged us to battle mentally," Cates said. "After a long road trip, coming from the West Coast, I think we stepped up. We were just mentally sharp, did the little things that we needed to do to get this win."

• The Flyers' power play had its not-so-good moments but it produced an equalizer in the second period.

Laughton pumped his fist after drawing the Flyers even at 1-1.

The club's man advantage finished 1 for 5. Its penalty kill went 2 for 3 and survived 38 seconds of a 5-on-3 during the middle stanza.

"That was not a clean game for us by any means," Konecny said. "So if we can still get a win by playing somewhat the right way and the way that we've been working at, then I can imagine how much better it could be."

• Kevin Hayes, the Flyers' leading scorer (29 points in 31 games), was benched for the entire third period by Tortorella.

It's the second time the head coach has benched Hayes during a third period.

This time, Tortorella was likely displeased with Hayes' neutral-zone turnover late in the second period.

"Oh, I'm not going to talk [about that]," Tortorella said. "It was my decision not to play him, but I'm not going to get too involved in that."

Not sure sitting Hayes for the entire third period is a wise move in a 1-1 game. There are different ways to make an example of or teach a lesson about his turnover.

Hayes has produced all season. One mistake and he's glued to the bench. Something to keep an eye on moving into the weekend.

• Hughes wasted little time putting his imprint on the game.

Under four and half minutes into the action, the 2019 first overall draft pick dangled through one of the Flyers' penalty kill units and beat Hart on a filthy shot.

The highlight-reel goal put the Flyers behind 1-0 at first intermission.

In a chance to a respond, the Flyers had 3:17 minutes of a power play at the end of the opening frame but failed to register a shot.

Cates recorded the only shot on the four-minute man advantage.

• Nicolas Deslauriers and Michael McLeod had a big-time bout in the second period.

The Flyers felt Deslauriers' presence against the Devils' fourth line going back to the season opener.

Two and a half minutes after Deslauriers' fight, Joel Farabee dropped the gloves with Brendan Smith.

"That was a huge fight for us," Hart said. "To get the boys going, both those tilts. It really got the energy going for us."

The game turned pretty chippy during the middle frame.

More: 'Very inconsistent' Farabee not feeling sorry for himself amid offensive slump

• Tony DeAngelo did not play on the Flyers' road trip. He was a healthy scratch last Friday and has been unavailable the past three games for a family matter.

"Tony and I talked last night," Tortorella said before the Flyers' morning skate Thursday. "It was more or less about his family situation, not about when he comes back. Still not sure on that."

Zack MacEwen returned to the lineup after missing the Flyers' 3-2 loss Tuesday to the Avalanche with an undisclosed injury.

With Patrick Brown and Max Willman both out because of upper-body injuries, Olle Lycksell was called up after morning skate.

Slotted at third-line left winger, the 23-year-old played 10-plus minutes.

Lycksell has recorded 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 16 games with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

• The Flyers return home for a matchup Saturday with the Rangers (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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