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POSTGAME 5: Welcome Back, Carter

Hart returns to help Flyers to 4-1 win over Florida with playoff position on the line

by Bill Meltzer @BillMeltzer

The Philadelphia Flyers took care of their own business in the tight Eastern Conference playoff race with a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday night.

Mackenzie Weegar's goal opened the scoring early in the first period, but Ivan Provorov got it back to send the teams to the first intermission tied at 1-1. In the second period, James van Riemsdyk finished off a transitional rush led by Jakub Voracek, starting near the attack blueline. Travis Sanheim scored in a late-period scramble around the net to build a 3-1 lead. Claude Giroux tallied a long-distance empty-net shorthanded goal (15th) to ice the win.

In his first game back after missing nine games with an abdominal muscle strain, Carter Hart needed some time to get settled in but soon did. He earned the win with 30 saves on 31 shots. Ex-Flyer Sergei Bobrovsky absorbed the loss. He stopped 30 of 33 shots.

Three Stars:
1st: James van Riemsdyk (1g-1a)
2nd: Carter Hart (30 of 31 saves)
3rd: Travis Sanheim (1g)

A head-up pass by Matt Niskanen and a filthy rising shot from between the tops of the circles by Provorov knotted the game at 1-1 at the 13:58 mark of the first period.The Flyers never trailed again.Video: FLA@PHI: Provorov nets top-shelf wrister from slot

1) Hart was not sharp early, coming off his three-plus week absence. The second shot of the game found its way into the net; an Aaron Ekblad point shot that was blocked in front and went to Weegar at the top of the left circle, who beat Hart between the pads on a stoppable shot. Hart continued to scuffle a bit with tracking and reaction until getting settled in over the latter half of the opening period. 

2) On the Flyers' first power play of the game, both units generated good scoring chances but could not forge ahead. Bobrovsky caught a break at the start of the kill as a deflected puck very nearly dribbled over the line.

3) The Flyers' fourth line was outstanding in the second period, dominating possession on several successive shifts. The third line also generated some good shifts. But it was Voracek, on a partial line change, who turned a routine play in the neutral zone into a suddenly dangerous 2-on-1 and fed JVR for the go-ahead goal at 5:24.Video: FLA@PHI: van Riemsdyk deflects Voracek's feed home

4) Hart made a few tough saves -- most notably off a 2-on-1 rush -- in the middle frame. Florida also missed the net on some of their better opportunities as the teams traded chances. It worked out well on the scoreboard this period but is not usually the ideal way to play Florida.

5) The teams traded off penalties in the third period - a couple of which were questionable calls by Steve Kozari... Hart made a vital breakaway save to preserve their two-goal lead. 

* The Flyers won their 19th game at home in their 28th game this season, which matches all of last season's total wins at home (19-18-4).

* Carter Hart returned to action for the first time since Jan. 13... He improved his record to 14-2-2 on home ice with a 1.65 GAA and .941 save percentage.

* Travis Sanheim now has six goals in eight games against Sergei Bobrovsky.

* Matt Niskanen has seven points (2g-5a) in his last six games and has recorded a point in five of his last six games.

* The Flyers defense scored their 36th and 37th goal this season, two more than all of last season... Their 37 goals this season ranks second in the NHL, only to NY Rangers (39).

* The Flyers hit the road for a three-game set when they take on the Islanders in Brooklyn tomorrow night. Puck drop is 7 p.m. on NBCSP or listen live on 97.5 The Fanatic.

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