PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When the buzzer rang zero after the first 40 minutes Wednesday night, everyone in the stands was on their feet, the building was shaking and for good reason. The Philadelphia Flyers had just killed off two minutes of a 5-on-3 power play and went into the second intermission with a firm one-goal lead. Not to mention what brought the fans to their feet, Carter Hart.
“I don’t just feel the bench, I feel the whole building,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. “Everybody could sense the vibes in this building tonight from start to finish.
“It’s something that I want to be a part of, players want to be part of, everybody. It’s lifting.”
Lifting is a strong adjective for what transpired in South Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
Hart delivered his first-career shutout, recording 25 saves as the Flyers blanked the New Jersey Devils, 4-0, in their home opener. Time and time again Hart sent a rambunctious crowd to their feet.
The 21-year-old became the youngest goalie in Flyers’ history to pitch a shutout at 21 years and 57 days. Dominic Roussel previously held that title at 22 years and five days, when he shut out Calgary in 1992.
“Talent has no age and I’m a firm believer in that,” Vigneault said. “There’s no doubt that Carter’s got a lot of potential, a lot of growth and development. He’s still a very young player.
“Played extremely well tonight. He’s a big part of our team. I know he wants to continue to solidify that position for him. He’s going to put in the time and the work to do that.”
The Flyers didn’t ask Hart to stand on his head. In fact, they limited the Devils to 25 shots on the night and not a lot of them were from danger scoring areas.
Twice Hart stoned Devils left winger Taylor Hall — in the first period on a backdoor play and then again on the 5-on-3 penalty kill in the second period.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 10, 2019
There were a few other quality saves sprinkled in, but the Flyers played tight defense in front of Hart and limited their mistakes.
“It was so solid. They didn’t have a lot of chances and when they did they didn’t get any second chances,” Hart said. “We were boxing out the net, letting me see the puck for the whole night.”
Hart deflected any questions about the milestone. He called it “pretty cool.” Humble as he could be.
Instead, Hart highlighted the importance of the win. The victory pushed the Flyers to 2-0-0, which is the first time they’ve opened the season with two wins since 2011-12.
That was also the last time the Flyers won a playoff series.
“I think it is huge we came out so hard in our home opener,” Hart said. “The fans were really getting into it. We gave them something to cheer about.”
There hasn’t been much to cheer about at the rink in recent years.
The Flyers have been stuck in the mud for years. They’ve been searching for a goalie since Ron Hextall.
You wouldn’t have known either of those things Wednesday.
The Wells Fargo Center was electric, and it was the 21-year-old netminder who was providing the spark.
Hart’s 33 games into his career, but the Flyers might have found their goalie.