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NHL Stadium Series

Hart takes Stadium Series benching in stride for Flyers

Elliott named to start against Penguins in outdoor game before rookie goalie sidelined with lower-body injury

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

Hart on Stadium Series

Carter Hart on not starting in 2019 Stadium Series

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart discusses not starting in goal for the 2019 Stadium Series against the Penguins on Saturday

  • 03:14 •

PHILADELPHIA -- Carter Hart has helped the Philadelphia Flyers climb into the race for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the rookie goalie will not play when the 2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field begins on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN360, SN1, TVAS2).

Hart was to be the backup to Brian Elliott, who will start Saturday for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury Nov. 15. But the rookie goalie will not dress and be out at least 10 days because of a lower-body injury.

Hart was pulled in the first period of his past two starts. He allowed three goals on nine shots in a 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, and three goals on nine shots in a 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

He was replaced each game by Elliott; the two relief appearances were his first games since returning from a conditioning stint with Lehigh Valley in the American Hockey League on Tuesday.


[RELATED: Complete 2019 Stadium Series coverage]


Hart said Friday that as much as he wanted to start against the Penguins, he's taking a bigger-picture approach.

"Even though it's an outdoor game, it's a crucial two points for us," Hart said before the injury was announced Saturday. "The last two games I haven't been at my best and Brian's done a good job coming in in relief both times. It is what it is, you can't control that. 

"What you can control is how you respond to it. It's disappointing but you've got to approach it the right way and can't let it set you back. You've just got to come back ready to work. We've got a lot of hockey coming up and that's where the focus is at."

The Flyers (28-26-7) are eight points behind the Penguins for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

Hart is a big reason they've gotten that close. Prior to the past two games, he was 13-6-1 with a 2.53 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in 20 games since making his NHL debut Dec. 18. The Flyers, who were last in the Eastern Conference when Hart made his debut, have gone 16-11-3 since. 

"I said to Carter that this right now, this is going to hurt that you are not going to play," Flyers coach Scott Gordon said before the injury was announced. "I know you are going to play a lot of games in the NHL and you're probably going to have a few of these outdoor games. But the biggest thing is, this is our biggest game of the year, and as far as a lineup decision, what's best for the team. ... In my heart it's easy to choose Carter. But from a standpoint of what's right for the team, I thought this was the right decision.

"If we base it on performance from a week ago or last Sunday, we are probably talking about Carter. But right now, given the way it's gone I just felt like I wanted to give our team the best chance for Saturday to win. ... You're not getting demoted here, you're not being pushed aside. You've earned the right to be here, played excellent. We all believe in you, the team believes in you."

Video: Gordon and Hart speak to the media after practice

Hart played outdoors for Canada against the United States at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship at New Era Field in Buffalo, so he understands what it's like to play an important game outside. But he also understands what's at stake right now for the Flyers.

"For sure it's disappointing, but at the end of the day we've got a lot of hockey left," Hart said. "We've got 20 games here. We're trying to make a push. One game isn't going to define you if you're not playing. I've just got to worry about preparing for the next opportunity."

On Saturday that opportunity belongs to Elliott.

"How things unfolded the last couple games, I didn't know what was going to happen," Elliott said. "I just wanted to be part of things. ... , even sitting on the bench. I played a couple games in the [AHL] to see how I was doing and coming back and getting a chance to play these last two games and feeling good about it, feeling good about my game.

"[Hart] was a big part of getting this team to this situation that we're in, chasing a playoff spot right now. ... For me, you just have to put all those things to the side and try to enjoy the moment, go out there and try to be the best for the guys in front of me."

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