Flyers hope for more Hart vs. Jackets

Published Dec. 22, 2018 12:01 a.m. ET

One thing is becoming more and more clear.

With apologies to "Damn Yankees," the Philadelphia Flyers had to have Hart.

As in 20-year-old goaltender Connor Hart, who has made 53 saves in winning his first two NHL starts -- which have also coincided with a coaching change.

"He's the main reason we won the last two games," Jake Voracek said after Thursday night's 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators made Scott Gordon 2-0 as the Flyers' interim coach.

Said Hart, who will try to keep it going with the Columbus Blue Jackets in town for a Saturday matinee: "I'm competing and having fun."

He looked particularly sharp during a Nashville 5-on-3 advantage, with Ryan Johansen saying, "We had some good looks. The young kid in net made some good saves, made our 5-on-3 look bad."

Having a homestand at the time of the coaching and goaltending change has to have helped things get off on the right skate for both Gordon and Hart, the latter the sixth goalie to play for the Flyers this season.


He plays his third straight, but what will happen Sunday on the back end of a back-to-back against the Rangers in New York?

"We don't have to make a decision as far as what Sunday is going to be," Gordon said Friday. "Carter will start (Saturday) and we will get through the game and figure it out afterward."

Hart will face a Columbus team -- and former Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky -- coming off a 2-1 home victory over the New Jersey Devils Thursday night.

Bobrovsky, who has already defeated the Flyers twice this season, has allowed one goal in the last two games, both wins, as the Jackets have won three of their last four (points in all four) as they visit Philly.

The goalie emerged from a tough spell and has stopped 106 of 110 shots in the last four games, going 3-0-1.

"It's not only me, it's the team," he said. "I think the team improved a lot in front of me. It (trickles) down to me too and my result and my numbers get better too. I think we win as a team, we lose as a team. It's tough to break down by the pieces and say we win or lose because of one person. We have one logo on the chest and the result goes to the whole team."

Lifetime against his old team, Bobrovsky is an impressive 12-3-1, with a 2.04 goals against average and .929 save percentage. Backup Joonas Korpisalo has won his only career start against the Flyers.

The Jackets play the Devils again Sunday, this time in Columbus.

Cam Atkinson scored his 20th goal of the season Thursday night, the Blue Jackets' public relation Twitter account proclaiming, "#CAMSANITY now with 20 goals in 6-straight seasons, the 2nd #CBJ player to accomplish the feat (Rick Nash; 8-straight from 2003-12). At 20 goals in 33 GP, it's the 2nd-fastest to a 20-goal campaign in club history (Rick Nash; 20 goals in 31 GP in 2003-04)."

By the way, in a stat you probably can't live without: the win in New Jersey made the Jackets a perfect 10-0-0 on Thursdays, tied for the second-best start of a season on any day. The 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings won their first 10 Wednesdays.