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Carter Hart made 29 saves for his second consecutive shutout and the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday.
The Flyers can win the best-of-7 series in Game 5 in Toronto, the Eastern hub city, on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, NBCSP). Philadelphia hasn’t won a Stanley Cup Playoff series since defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Teams that have a 3-1 lead are 278-29 (90.6 percent) winning a best-of-7 NHL series; 173 of those series ended in Game 5 (56.4 percent).
[WATCH: All Flyers vs. Canadiens highlights]
Hart is the first NHL goalie with consecutive postseason shutouts since Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals in Games 6 and 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Final. He’s the first to do it for the Flyers since Michael Leighton against the Canadiens in Games 1 and 2 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Final.
“[Hart] has been an absolute wall for us back there, he’s so calm,” Flyers defenseman Philippe Myers said. “The way he’s playing right now he’s the best in the League.”
Michael Raffl and Myers scored for Philadelphia, the No. 1 seed in the conference.
Carey Price made 20 saves for Montreal, the No. 8 seed.
“I think we’ve been good, but I don’t think we really tested [Hart] much the last two games,” Canadiens forward Phillip Danault said. “We have to get better around the net and be more hungry. They were better tonight.”
Raffl gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead at 6:32 of the first period. The Flyers forced a turnover as the Canadiens were trying to exit their zone, with Jakub Voracek getting the puck to Raffl, and he kicked it ahead to Sean Couturier, who left it for Raffl in the left circle and his shot beat Price over his blocker.
“I don’t think you beat Carey Price too often with a clean shot,” Raffl said. “You have to be lucky to put it right in that spot. I had lots of time because [Couturier] was pushing their [defensemen] back a little bit. I put everything I had into the shot and lucky enough it went in.”
Raffl had been shifted to left wing on the top line in place of Claude Giroux.
“I’ve done that for some parts throughout this season, throughout my career, so I’m capable of doing that,” Raffl said.
Myers put Philadelphia ahead 2-0 with 2:56 remaining in the second period on a shot from the right side off the rush that deflected off the stick of Montreal defenseman Brett Kulak and bounced over Price’s right pad.
“That was the break that we needed,” Canadiens associate coach Kirk Muller said. “But you create your own breaks. [Price] has been solid. You’ve got to score some goals to win hockey games, but that was unfortunate.”
That was enough for Hart, who extended his shutout streak to 120:00, the longest in the playoffs for the Flyers since Leighton had a streak of 172:55 in 2010.
Philadelphia blocked 13 shots, led by three by forward Nate Thompson.
“There’s no doubt Carter is a huge part of this,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “We’re not playing perfect hockey, and when we do make mistakes, he’s been able to get that big save for us. In front of him there’s been a lot of effort going on, both to be in right position and obviously the blocked shots. There were a couple very desperate plays on our part from guys that got in the way. That’s a big part of finding ways to win. Those defensive plays are as important as the offensive part.”
Hart said he appreciated the effort, including one by defenseman Robert Hagg, who blocked a shot by Shea Weber with his head.
“Got a lot of good blocked shots tonight, especially the one with Hagg, really committed there,” Hart said. “Scary moment but glad he’s OK. Everyone’s committed to winning right now and battling hard.”
The Canadiens feel there’s more they can do to battle and stay in the series.
“We just have to put this behind us,” Montreal forward Tomas Tatar said. “It’s not pretty when you don’t score in two games. We had our chances, we just couldn’t find the net. … I feel that once we have one it’ll start rolling. So just be a little more hungry around the net. It’s not over until it’s over. We will regroup and we’ll get ready for the next game.”
NOTES: Hart, at 22 years, 5 days old, is the second-youngest NHL goalie with back-to-back playoff shutouts. Harry Lumley of the Detroit Red Wings was age 18 years, 161 days old when he shut out the Toronto Maple Leafs in Games 5 and 6 of the 1945 Stanley Cup Final. … Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher leads the NHL with 34 shots on goal, including three Tuesday, but has not scored. He tied Tatar for the Canadiens lead with 22 goals during the regular season.
NHL.com columnist Dave Stubbs contributed to this report