Hart makes 40 saves as Flyers beat Blackhawks 3-1
If the 20-year-old rookie is feeling any pressure, it’s hard to tell.
Hart made 40 saves and James van Reimsdyk snapped a tie in the third period, helping the Flyers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 on Thursday night.
Corban Knight also scored as Philadelphia picked up a sorely needed victory after dropping three of four. The Flyers (36-30-8) moved within five points of the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s crunch time right now, but we’re just coming to the rink every day and just worrying about our group and everything that’s going on in here,” Hart said. “All that excess noise, we can’t control any of that. We can’t control how other teams are playing or any of that.”
Hart made his fourth start since returning from a lower-body injury. He has stopped 114 of 118 shots in his last three games.
“He’s been great. He’s won a lot of games for us by himself,” forward Sean Couturier said.
Chicago (32-31-10) missed out on a chance to gain ground in the race for the second wild card out West. Erik Gustafsson scored, and Corey Crawford made 25 stops.
“I’m aware of the standings, I’m aware we need points, but it’s how we play that matters,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “That’s where we’re at.”
Van Reimsdyk picked up his sixth goal in the last five games on a long backhand at 9:50. Couturier had a hand in van Reimsdyk’s 26th goal with a well-placed screen in front of Crawford.
“I think it hit a good spot,” van Reimsdyk said. “I wasn’t necessarily aiming there, but I’ll take it.”
Philadelphia forward Ryan Hartman was whistled for holding at 11:08, but the Flyers didn’t allow a shot on goal on the ensuing power play. Couturier then put it away with an empty-netter with 1:14 left.
Chicago got one shot on its only other power play in the second period. It has one power-play goal in its last nine games.
“If we score or not, we’ve got to get some momentum off it,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “We’ve got to find that poise in moving the puck, getting open for each other. When things were going really well for us, we had four guys playing well without the puck, being available, moving it quick.”
The Blackhawks scored first when Gustafsson made a move in the right circle and beat Hart on the glove side 10:39 into the first period. It was the 15th goal of the season for the defenseman, who also scored during Monday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Vancouver.
Knight responded for the Flyers, skating up the slot and beating Crawford on the stick side at 15:43. It was the first goal for Knight since Jan. 5, 2016, for Florida at Buffalo and No. 4 for his career.
NOTES: Blackhawks F Drake Caggiula joined the team for its morning skate, but he missed his ninth consecutive game since he sustained a concussion against Anaheim on Feb. 27. … Flyers F Michael Raffl was scratched due to an illness. D Philippe Myers returned to the lineup after he missed Tuesday night’s 3-1 loss to Montreal with an illness. … The NHL announced Thursday that the Flyers and Blackhawks will open next season in Prague on Oct. 4 as part of the league’s Global Series. It’s the third consecutive year the NHL is staging regular-season games in Europe and eighth overall.
Flyers: Host the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Blackhawks: Visit the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.