After missing nine games because of a lower abdominal strain, Flyers goaltender Carter Hart will return Monday and face visiting Florida.
“Cahta Haht is good to go,” coach Alain Vigneault, in his best Kevin Hayes impersonation, said after Monday’s morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center.
Hart is 15-11-3 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .905 save percentage this season. At home, he is 13-2-2 with a 1.69 GAA and .940 save percentage.
“We’ve got to play good in front of him tonight and ease him back into the game,” right winger Travis Konecny said.
“I think everyone’s excited to see him jump back in there and see how he does,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “Big game for us, too.”
The Flyers are tied with Carolina in points (67), but the Hurricanes hold the second wild-card spot because of a 22-21 edge in regulation wins.
Florida has 64 points, but has a game in hand on the Flyers. The Panthers defeated the Flyers, 5-2, on Nov. 19 at the BB & T Center. Hart, 21, played half that game and stopped 14 of 18 shots before being relieved by Brian Elliott.
While Hart was sidelined, the veteran Elliott went 5-1-1 with a 2.06 goals-against average and .916 save percentage. Alex Lyon also chipped in with a 6-3 win over Colorado, and he dropped a 4-1 decision to Montreal.
Former Flyer Sergei Bobrovsky, who has struggled mightily in his first season in Florida, will start for the Panthers. Bobrovsky is 20-15-5 with a 3.27 GAA and .898 save percentage for Joel Quenneville’s Panthers.
Those numbers are not why Florida gave him a seven-year, $70 million contract.
Bobrovsky, 31, a two-time Vezina winner as the league’s top goaltender, has excelled in his career against the Flyers, compiling a 15-3-1 record with a 2.13 GAA and .928 save percentage.
Rookie left winger Joel Farabee, who has missed the last two games because of the flu, will not play Monday. He will probably return to the lineup Tuesday against the host New York Islanders, Vigneault said.
“Technically, he’s cleared [to play], but the bug that hit him was very severe,” Vigneault said. “He lost quite a few pounds. He skated yesterday, skated today, so an extra day of recovery [will help]. ... If we need him to play, he’ll play tomorrow.”
Farabee said he lost 10 pounds but gained about half of it back.
Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere did not practice. He recently had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, missed 10 games, returned for one game, then sat out Saturday’s 7-2 win in Washington.
Gostisbehere’s knee was bothering him Monday, Vigneault said.