Lightning 5, Flyers 2: NHL Leader Gives Carter Hart Early Boot


There would be no three-or-four-goal comeback in this game.

The Tampa Bay Lightning jumped on Carter Hart, chasing the rookie netminder midway through the first period on their way to handing the Flyers a 5-2 loss Tuesday night.

The Bolts swept the regular-season series over the Flyers for the first time since 2013-14.

Here are my observations from the Wells Fargo Center:

• It was just a matter of time before Hart was due for a clunker. He had been too good for too long. After awhile, all of those Grade-A opportunities he had stopped recently would eventually catch up with him.

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Although he told me after the morning skate that playing three games in four days was "no big deal," it's a much different beast at the NHL level against the Lightning, as opposed to the Western Hockey League.

• Ultimately, I think this could benefit Hart and the Flyers as he'll be better rested for Thursday's game against Montreal, which is much more vital to the Flyers' postseason chances. That's a game the Flyers need to win in regulation and they'll need Hart at his best. 

• I think the Andrew MacDonald-Shayne Gostisbehere pairing has run its course. Neither defenseman is reliable in their own end of the ice and both are easily knocked off pucks along the boards.

I can't seem to figure out what "Ghost" was doing on the first goal. He seemed to give Hart a path to see the puck, but then proceeded to throw his stick out at the last moment in an effort to deflect it. I've said it on numerous times: either get your body in the way and block the shot or remove yourself from the shooting lane completely.

• If you watch a single highlight from this game (and most aren't worth watching), you have to check out Tampa's Louis Domingue make a leg save without a stick while lying on his side. When you can get this type of goaltending from your No. 2, you're a pretty good team.

• Anything less than winning the Stanley Cup will be a disappointment for the Lightning. In three games against the Flyers, they scored eight first-period goals.

Playing on back-to-back nights without defenseman Victor Hedman, starting goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and their second-leading scorer Brayden Point (who missed a team meeting), Tampa completely zapped the Flyers in the opening 10 minutes, which speaks to its depth and the ability that any line can score at any moment.

• Did you notice former Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton was signed on a two-way deal by the Vancouver Canucks? He hasn't played in the league since January 2017. If teams are that desperate for goaltending depth, doesn't some team take a shot on Brian Elliott, who was very solid in relief? 

The only goal Elliott allowed, he had lost his stick and failed to seal the post. I'm sure the Flyers would like to pick up an extra draft pick even if it's a mid-to-late round pick.

• The Flyers did manage to keep the NHL's leading scorer Nikita Kucherov off the scoresheet. Kucherov had six points in the two previous games with the Flyers, but was held without a point, snapping his five-game point streak, having racked up 18 points in that stretch. 

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