Carter Hart continued his dominance at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.
So did the Flyers.
Hart made 27 saves and Claude Giroux scored the go-ahead goal as the Flyers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 6-1, and extended their winning streak to a season-high five straight.
The Flyers, who equaled a franchise record for points in November (24, with a 10-2-4 record), started December with another win at home, where they are 9-1-4.
The Flyers scored five unanswered goals in the last 10 minutes, turning a tight, tense matchup into a blowout.
“It was the closest 6-1 game I’ve ever been a part of,” center Kevin Hayes said.
“They’re a highly skilled team, but sometimes they have some defensive lapses,” Shayne Gostisbehere, who finished with a goal, an assist and a plus-3 rating, said of the Maple Leafs. “It’s just good to get out there and contribute and help the team get two points.”
The Flyers could have been down by at least two goals, but Hart made 15 saves -- many from point-blank range -- in a scoreless first period.
“He cleaned up a lot of our mistakes,” Gostisbehere said.
Hart is 7-1-2 at the Wells Fargo Center this season with a save percentage near .950.
Toronto tied the game at 1, when defenseman Travis Dermott’s point drive bounced off Hart’s shoulder and into the net with 11 minutes, 22 seconds left in regulation.
“They get a bounce to tie it up, and we kept going, kept playing and showed some resiliency,” coach Alain Vigneault said.
Just 1:22 later, Giroux scored after taking a feed from Travis Konecny (goal, assist) from behind the net. Defenseman Phil Myers (three assists, four hits, plus-3) kept the puck in the zone to put the sequence in motion.
“G’s played a lot of years and knows how to play the game and you know where he is without looking,” Konecny said of Giroux.
Konecny made it 3-1 by scoring his 10th goal with 3:28 remaining, and Joel Farabee added an empty-net tally. Gostisbehere and James van Riemsdyk added five-on-five goals.
Hayes did most of the work on the game’s first goal, and Scott Laughton was the beneficiary.
Hayes shook free from defenseman Justin Holl, then turned Auston Matthews inside out and fed Laughton in front. Laughton knocked in his third goal in four games, giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead with 11:11 left in the second period.
“Haysey has got a big body and he protects the puck so well,” Laughton said. “He made a great play to me and I just tried to put my stick on the ice in front of the net and luckily the puck went over his shoulder.”
With a little under 16 minutes left in the second, Andreas Johnsson went in alone on Hart, but the second-year goaltender made the save. He stopped all 23 shots he faced in the first 40 minutes, including a two-on-one shorthanded chance by Frederik Gauthier late in the second period.
In the last 3:30 or so of the second period, Oskar Lindblom and Michael Raffl (no goals in his last 19 games) hit the post from in tight, so the Flyers maintained their 1-0 lead heading into the third. Raffl later left the game with a broken pinky on his right hand. He will miss about a month, Vigneault said. The Flyers may recall Misha Vorobyev from the Phantoms.
“I don’t know what it is, but in the last 10 minutes of the second, we were a little better," Laughton said. "We started to play more of our game, but we still have a ways to go in our play.”
Toronto had the better scoring chances in a scoreless first period, but Hart had all the answers.
Hart, who had a 1.94 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in 10 November games, stopped all 15 shots he faced in the first, including six on the lone power play of the period. The Leafs had all six of those shots in the first 55 seconds of the power play, including two from the doorstep by John Tavares (five shots, all in the first), and a right-circle drive by Matthews (minus-3).
But the Flyers slowly started to take control in the second period.