Hart made 22 saves in his NHL debut and Shayne Gostisbehere and James van Riemsdyk each had a goal and an assist as Philadelphia defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 on Tuesday night and made interim coach Scott Gordon a winner in his first game.
"It was something special tonight to be out there," the 20-year-old Hart said. "I was trying not to think about it before the game. Now, it’s starting to sink in a little bit."
Radko Gudas also scored for Philadelphia, which snapped a four-game losing streak.
The Flyers were playing their first game since head coach Dave Hakstol was fired on Monday, a move that capped a tumultuous few weeks. General manager Ron Hextall was fired last month and new GM Chuck Fletcher ended Hakstol’s four-year tenure after a 1-4 road trip was punctuated by Saturday’s 5-1 loss at Vancouver. The Flyers entered the game last in the Eastern Conference with 28 points.
"It’s a big relief for everybody," Gordon said.
Fletcher promoted Gordon from the Flyers’ AHL Lehigh Valley affiliate.
Dennis Cholowski and Jacob de la Rose scored for Detroit, which has lost four in a row and five of six.
"We didn’t make it hard enough on (Hart)," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "If I was the coach on the other bench, I would have thought it was an easy game for my team."
Hart was the club’s second-round pick (48th overall) in the 2016 draft. He was 9-5-2 this season for the Flyers’ AHL affiliate at Lehigh Valley, and earned the call-up on Monday after a strong recent stretch in which he went 4-1-0 with a 1.81 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.
"For a 20-year-old goalie, it was pretty impressive how calm he was," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "Good start for him."
Hart became the sixth goalie to start for the Flyers this season, marking the 14th time in league history a team has used six goalies in a season and the only time it has happened within the first 35 games.
The rookie netminder wasn’t tested much, and Hart’s best save may have come in the first period when he denied Dylan Larkin.
"That was a critical save," Gordon said.
Hart also made a pair of good pad saves at the end of the second period to keep Philadelphia ahead 3-1.
Hart preserved the win with a strong save of Martin Frk’s slap shot from the left circle with 10 seconds remaining in regulation.
"That was a great first game for him," Gordon said.
Detroit tied the game at 1 on a power-play goal by Cholowski 4:12 into the second. He beat a screened Hart on the blocker side with a wrist shot from the slot.
Philadelphia regained the lead 4:40 later on Gudas’ slap shot from the high slot that got past Jonathan Bernier’s right pad. The Red Wings challenged the goal, arguing that van Riemsdyk’s skate interfered with Bernier’s ability to make the save, but the officials disagreed and the call stood.
Gostisbehere finished a stellar tic-tac-toe passing setup from Michael Raffl and Nolan Patrick with a wrist shot high over Bernier from the slot to make it 3-1 with 4:43 left in the second.
De la Rose made it a one-goal game two minutes into the third by beating Hart through the pads from right in front after a quick pass from Frk from behind the net.
Van Riemsdyk opened the scoring with 1:27 left in the first with a great deflection of Giroux’s wrist shot from in front of the crease.
NOTES: Detroit G Jimmy Howard (back) was scratched after being injured in warmups. . The teams will meet twice more in the regular season. . Michal Neuvirth backed up Hart. Neuvirth has appeared in just two games this season. Starter Brian Elliott (lower body) is out until at least January. . Flyers RW Jakub Voracek played in his 800th game. … The Flyers continued their dominance of Detroit on home ice, making it 15 straight regular-season games without a regulation loss in Philadelphia. The Red Wings last skated to a regular-season regulation win in Philadelphia on Jan. 25, 1997. The Flyers are 14-0-1 since.
Detroit: At Carolina on Thursday night.
Philadelphia: Host Nashville on Thursday night.