Saturday was a very busy and eventful day across the National Hockey League with 20 teams in action. The hottest team and goalie in the league continued their streaks in Philadelphia. There was an emotional retirement ceremony in Florida. Plus, some new life in Nashville after back-to-back shutouts.
Hart, Flyers Continue to Roll
The Philadelphia Flyers remain the hottest team in the NHL with goaltender Carter Hart leading the way. Captain Claude Giroux scored twice and Hart made 38 saves in a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres Saturday.
“We didn’t deserve to win tonight,” Flyers forward Jakub Voracek said. “We were really flat throughout the 60 minutes. Hart made some huge stops when we needed it, and we got lucky that we won.”
The victory was their ninth in a row, keeping them tied with the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division. This is Flyers’ longest winning streak since they won 10 games in a row during the 2016-17 season. They are two wins shy of tying the Tampa Bay Lightning for the longest winning streak of this season.
Hart is 7-0-0 since Feb. 18. With his eight-game winning streak last season, he became the first goaltender in NHL history to record multiple winning streaks of at least seven games at 21-years-old or younger.
He also picked up his eight-straight win at the Wells Fargo Center and his 20th home win of the season in just 24 appearances. He tied both Wayne Stephenson and Bernie Parent as the fastest goalies in team history to win 20 home games in a season. Stephenson (1975-76) and Parent (1976-77) accomplished the feat in back-to-back seasons.
Panthers Retire Luongo’s Number
Before the Florida Panthers picked up a huge win over the Montreal Canadiens, the team honored former goaltender Roberto Luongo by retiring his jersey number and raising it to the rafters of the BB&T Center.
Luongo stepped away from the game last June after 20 seasons in the NHL, including 11 in two separate stints with the Panthers. He retired second in NHL history in games played by a goalie (1,044), third in wins (489) and ninth in shutouts (77). He holds the franchise record for wins for both the Panthers (230) and Vancouver Canucks (252).
The pregame ceremony, which was attended by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, featured video tributes from former teammates including Alex Burrows, Joe Thornton and fellow goaltending great Martin Brodeur. The entire Panthers team watched from the bench wearing the now-retired number 1 jersey of Luongo.
During an emotional speech, Luongo shared this touching story about how his grandmother used to take a break from “cranking out lasagnas” to play hockey in the basement with him.
Luongo remains a part of the Panthers organization as he currently serves as a special adviser to general manager Dale Tallon.
“It’s been a great ride,” he said to end his 20-minute speech. “It’s been amazing. It’s still amazing.”
Saros Sweeps Stars with Another Shutout
The Nashville Predators completed a huge sweep of a home-and-home series versus the Dallas Stars on Saturday afternoon. Juuse Saros made 37 saves in a 2-0 win, picking up his second straight shutout and fourth on the season.
“He’s been playing amazing,” Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis said about Saros’ recent play. “[Juuse] has been unbelievable. He looks so calm even on high-danger chances. He’s just swallowing them up, eating them every time, and very limited rebounds. To be honest, he looks phenomenal right now.”
Saros is now 6-0-1 versus Dallas in his career. The Stars have now been shutout six times this season, including both games against the Predators this week after Saros stopped all 33 shots he faced on Thursday. They are still seeking their first even-strength goal of the month of March, going 211:02 since their last one.
Meanwhile, the Predators are now tied with the Winnipeg Jets and Canucks for the first playoff wild card in the Western Conference. They have gone 10-7-1 since Feb. 1 to get back into the playoff race.
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Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.