There was no temper tantrum from goaltender Carter Hart. No broken stick being heaved. No bad goals allowed.
Hart, rebounding from a forgettable game, stopped 33 of 34 shots Thursday night and Michael Raffl scored the go-ahead third-period goal as the Flyers outlasted New Jersey, 3-1, to complete a two-game sweep at the Prudential Center.
Raffl, a fourth-line winger, knocked in a rebound after Connor Bunnaman’s shot kissed the left post to give the Flyers (5-2-1) a 2-1 lead with 17 minutes, 50 seconds left in regulation. Captain Claude Giroux’s first goal of the season, a redirect from Erik Gustafsson (two assists), made it 3-1 with 13:34 remaining
“The first two periods were probably our worst, and he kept us in the game,” Giroux said about Hart. “In the third, I think we played better, but he saved our game in the first and second.”
The Flyers, who were outshot, 34-17, have 15 third-period goals, tops in the NHL.
Two nights earlier, with Brian Elliott in the nets, the Flyers defeated the Devils, 5-3.
During his young career, Hart has looked like Ken Dryden in his prime — at least in home games.
On the road, he has resembled Ken Wregget.
At home, Hart was especially brilliant last season (1.61 GAA, .943 save percentage), and his career numbers are impressive (2.31, .926) in 49 games at the Wells Fargo Center.
Heading into Thursday, his career road numbers (3.44, .885) were head-scratching, but not as bad as last year (3.81, .857).
With that as a background, Hart, who was coming off Saturday’s 6-1 loss in Boston, tried to restore some order to his road game before it started to spiral out of control.
He did just that.
The Flyers rarely tested New Jersey goalie Scott Wedgewood in the first two periods. They had little offensive-zone time and just eight shots in the first 40 minutes. They had only three shots from forwards in that span.
But Hart‘s solid goaltending and a goal from stay-at-home defenseman Nate Prosser, of all people, kept them in a 1-1 tie heading into the third period.
The third period was the Flyers’ strongest, and it was keyed by the fourth line — Bunnaman, who won nine of 10 faceoffs, centering Raffl and Nic Aube-Kubel.
“At the end of the day, I thought we played one period where we played with energy and the way you’re supposed to play,” said coach Alain Vigneault, who wasn’t happy with his top two lines in the first 40 minutes. “The guys that set the tone was Bunnaman’s line. They played hard, they played the right way, and they were in position. They made things happen out there.”
Hart was coming off Saturday’s five-goal loss in Boston, a game in which he whacked his stick against his net several times, splintered it, and heaved it across the ice when the final horn sounded.
He bounced back Thursday.
“When you face the puck early, it definitely helps you get into the game,” said Hart, who made 13 first-period stops, including a wraparound by the elusive Jack Hughes, the shifty forward who seemed to be in the middle of several early scoring chances.
Prosser’s first goal since 2018 — and just the 11th of his 10-year career — knotted the score at 1-1 with 10:37 left in the opening period. Prosser, a physical defenseman making his Flyers debut, hustled into the play and poked in a rebound after a Gustafsson shot.
“We won the draw back to Gus pretty clean, and I saw that he had a lot of time and Jakub [Voracek] came out high,” said Prosser, 34, who played his first NHL game in two seasons. “I kind of felt like I had some free rein to go down and see if there was any rebound that could possibly pop out, and it so happened that the puck did.”
» READ MORE: Defenseman Nate Prosser makes Flyers debut
Prosser also played well on the penalty kill; it was his first game in 10 months, when he was a member of the AHL’s Phantoms.
“I just needed to get the first two shifts out of the way, then I found my way,” Prosser said.
New Jersey, which had a 14-4 shots domination in the first, struck first when Damon Severson fired a right-circle shot off the left post and past Hart with 12:49 to go in the opening period. Gustafsson, who was defending Severson, appeared to slightly deflect the shot, making it rise as it whizzed past Hart.
The game marked the second time New Jersey hosted the Flyers in consecutive regular-season games in the franchises’ history. The other time: April 13-16, 2006, when Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were Flyers rookies, Eric Desjardins and Joni Pitkanen were eating up minutes on the back end, and Robert Esche and Antero Niittymaki were the goaltenders.
Yeah, it had been a while.