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Canadiens keep things close, but fall 2-1 in Game 1 to Flyers

Flyers goalie Carter Hart stymies Canadiens' Nick Suzuki during second period last night at the Scotiabank Centre in Toronto.
Flyers goalie Carter Hart stymies Canadiens' Nick Suzuki during second period last night at the Scotiabank Centre in Toronto.

TORONTO — Philadelphia Flyers goalie Carter Hart played in his first official NHL playoff game Wednesday night against the Canadiens.

The 21-year-old went mask-to-mask with his childhood idol, Carey Price. You’d think that might rattle Hart, but the 6-foot-2, 181-pound netminder stood strong and tall as the Flyers beat the Canadiens 2-1 in Game 1 of their best-of-seven first-round series. Hart made 27 saves, while Price made 29.

During a video conference Wednesday afternoon, Flyers coach Alain Vigneault admitted that some of his players were nervous ahead of the game and you have to think Hart was one of them. Vigneault was asked if that worried him and also if Hart reminds him in any way of a young Price.

“I’m going to stay away from the comparisons,” Vigneault said about Hart, who won a silver medal in 2017 and a gold medal in 2018 with Team Canada at the world junior championship. “Carter is Carter. He’s played in big games before and his skill set, the way he prepares, the way he’s working on becoming the best goaltender that he can be. This is not Carter against Price. This is Philly against Montreal. Everybody’s got their part to do, he’s got his part, and I’m sure he’ll do it fine.”


The Canadiens made it easy on Hart in the first period. Joel Armia got the Canadiens’ first shot on goal at the 4:15 mark and their second shot didn’t come until 12:41 from Max Domi. Between those two shots, Jakub Voracek opened the scoring for the Flyers on a power play when he deflected a point blast from Ivan Provovov at 8:54, making the score 1-0 with Jonathan Drouin in the penalty box for slashing. The shots were 6-1 at the time for the Flyers.

The Flyers outshot the Canadiens 11-5 in the first period, but were only leading 1-0 at the intermission.

The Canadiens, who hadn’t played since eliminating the Pittsburgh Penguins last Friday in the qualifying round, got off to a much better start in the second period with Hart having to make a nice save on Artturi Lehkonen only 23 seconds in and then stopping a slapshot from Paul Byron 26 seconds later.

The Canadiens tied the score when Shea Weber scored on a rebound at the 14:38 mark for his team’s first power-play goal of the postseason after going 0-for-12 against the Penguins. The lead didn’t last long, however, with Joel Farabee scoring what turned out to be the winner for the Flyers only 16 seconds later.

The Canadiens outshot the Flyers 17-7 in the second period, but were still down by a goal.

There was no scoring in the third period, but the Canadiens’ Nick Suzuki fired a shot off the crossbar with 27 seconds left on the clock and Hart picked up a win on a night he will never forget.

Game 2 is slated for Friday afternoon at Scotiabank Arena (3 p.m., CBC, SN, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio).

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