The Philadelphia Flyers entered Game 4 with a chance to take a 3-1 series lead and push the Montreal Canadiens to the brink of elimination. Thanks to goals from Michael Raffl and Philippe Myers, and a second consecutive shutout from Carter Hart, the Flyers got the job done. Here are the top takeaways from their 2-0 Game 4 victory.
The Flyers picked up where they left off in Game 3 and got off to a strong start versus the Canadiens. They dominated early on, recording five of the game’s first six shots. Meanwhile, it took six minutes for the Canadiens to even muster one shot on the Flyers’ netminder.
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The Flyers capitalized on their fifth shot with Raffl ripping the puck past Montreal goalie Carey Price for the game’s first goal. This was Raffl’s second goal of the 2020 NHL Playoffs and his third career playoff goal.
Shortly after scoring, the Flyers’ fortunes took a turn for the worse. They went up a man after Kevin Hayes was tripped, yet proceeded to lose momentum. The team has struggled on the power play this postseason, entering the game just 1 for 25. (from ‘The Flyers’ series lead is nice. Now about that power play …,’ Philadelphia Inquirer, 08/17/2020) They played accordingly on this power play and failed to establish much possession and could not register any shots. In fact, Montreal recorded two shots while shorthanded. Sean Couturier did have a chance for a tap-in goal, but Shea Weber broke up the play.
It took a little while for the Flyers to get going again after this failed power play, with the Canadiens spending prolonged periods of time in their offensive zone. Fortunately, the Flyers recovered towards the end of the period and tallied five of the final eight shots of the frame.
Stars Still Scoreless in Playoffs
In the regular season, Travis Konecny, Kevin Hayes, Couturier and Claude Giroux combined for 90 goals. That was good for roughly 40% of the 227 total goals scored by the Flyers. Nonetheless, somehow these four have yet to score a goal in this postseason.
Once again, Price prevented them from lighting the lamp, and once again other Flyers stepped up. This time, it was Raffl and defenseman Myers, who benefitted from Price mishandling his seemingly harmless shot towards the end of the second period.
At least in this game, the stars assisted on the Flyers’ goals, with Konecny, Hayes and Couturier each picking up one helper. Still, the team’s offense is struggling with these players unable to find the back of the net. Through four games against the Canadiens, the Flyers have scored just five total goals. The Canadiens, down three games to one, have miraculously outscored the Flyers six to five this series. Should they advance to the next round and face a stronger opponent, they will need more offense to win.
Brilliance From Carter Hart
Hart shut out the Canadiens for the second game in a row. He became the first goalie in the NHL this postseason to record consecutive shutouts. He also became just the third goalie in franchise history to accomplish this feat in the playoffs after Bernie Parent in 1975 and Michael Leighton in 2010.
Hart stopped all 29 shots he faced in this one. After getting much help from the goalposts in Game 3, Hart was bailed out by the iron once more in Game 4. (from ‘‘Oblivious’ Carter Hart, Jake Voracek spark Flyers past Montreal Canadiens, 1-0,’ Philadelphia Inquirer, 08/16/2020 Around the 14-minute mark of the second period, Jeff Petry’s shot ricocheted off of Hart’s pads and then the goal post, but managed to stay out of the net. Nick Suzuki led all Canadiens players with six shots on goal.
Ever since getting pulled in the Flyers’ Game 2 loss, Hart has bounced back with some of his best goaltending of the season. With the Flyers’ offense continuing to struggle, his dominance in net could not come at a better time.
The Flyers will face the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday at 8 PM ET for Game 5, a possible elimination game. With the Flyers playing back-to-back games, Alain Vigneault will decide who gets the start in net between the red-hot Hart and backup Brian Elliott.