Anthony Stolarz will try to extend the Flyers' winning streak to nine games Thursday night against visiting Los Angeles -- and continue the stellar goaltending provided by Carter Hart, the 20-year-old whiz kid who has taken the NHL by storm.
“He’s playing really well and I just want to keep that momentum going,” Stolarz said after the Flyers' practice Wednesday in Voorhees.
Stolarz has one of the eight victories during the winning streak, a 1-0 win he stole from the New York Rangers, who dominated the Jan. 29 matchup at Madison Square Garden and outshot the Flyers, 38-19.
“My last start at MSG, I felt really good and was seeing the puck well,” Stolarz said. “It’s been a week and change since I last played, but I’ve had good practice habits and good tempo, and I’m looking to carry that into the game.”
Stolarz, 25, said long layoffs don’t bother him.
“I think I’m used to that from the beginning of this year when I was here, and two years ago I was in that role,” he said. “It’s a unique asset, I guess you could say. Obviously, everyone wants to be the guy, but I take pride in kind of being able to come in cold and play a solid game.”
The Flyers (24-23-6) are seven points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“Obviously, you want to keep the streak going,” Stolarz said. “All I’m going to think about is going out there and making that first save and controlling the rebound or swallowing the puck. It’s a team game and we’re going to want to continue to play well and limit the chances -- and continue our offensive pressure."
Stolarz said the atmosphere at the Wells Fargo Center has been electric lately -- a vast difference from when the team was struggling mightily.
Earlier in the season, "we’d make a nice play or a big hit or score a timely goal, and there was some noise, but now you can really feel the energy,” he said.
He talked about the fans reacting to Hart’s saves or Radko Gudas’ hits.
“You can hear the fans in the stands getting the ‘Let’s Go Flyers!’ chant going, and we kind of thrive off that,” he said. “The louder they are and the more energized they are, the more energized we’re going to be.”
The Kings (22-27-4) have won three of their last four games, including a 5-2 victory Tuesday in New Jersey -- the first game Los Angeles’ Ilya Kovalchuk, 35, played there since he left the Devils in 2013 to play in Russia.
Former Flyer Jeff Carter, who sat out Tuesday’s win, has a lower-body injury and is listed as day to day for the Kings, who have inched to within six points out of a playoff spot, though they have to climb over seven teams.
The Flyers put seldom-used forward Jori Lehetra on waivers Wednesday.
Lehtera, 31, who is in the final year of his contract ($4.7 million cap hit), played in just 27 of the team’s 53 games. He had a goal, two assists, and a minus-7 rating.
Acquired with two first-round picks that turned into Morgan Frost and Joel Farabee in a 2017 deal that sent Brayden Schenn to St. Louis, Lehtera has been under an investigation in an alleged Finnish drug ring.
Lehtera has maintained he is innocent.
Lehtera has been a healthy scratch in the last five games, and he has sat out 19 of the last 22 games.
The Flyers could still keep Lehetra on the roster even if he clears waivers. If he clears, as expected, he could be sent to the Phantoms.
Recently acquired Justin Bailey, a 6-foot-4, 214-pound winger who has 52 games of NHL experience, is among the candidates the Flyers could recall from Lehigh Valley. Bailey was acquired from Buffalo last month for Taylor Leier.
There is also a chance forward Corban Knight will replace Lehtera after he participates in a few more practices. Knight hasn’t played since Oct. 27 because of a dislocated collarbone.