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Flyers’ Carter Hart Returns from Illness, Ready to Face Columbus

Carter Hart, who missed Tuesday’s 5-1 win over St. Louis due to illness, returned to practice at the Flyers Training Center on Wednesday.

The Philadelphia Flyers goaltender is expected to be in the nets in Columbus (3-9) on Thursday, though coach John Tortorella was reluctant to proclaim him a starter.

However, the fact that the Flyers sent goalie Samuel Ersson to the Phantoms shows Hart is ready to play.

“I’m feeling a lot better than yesterday,” Hart said after Wednesday’s practice.

Hart, 24, said he was ready to go.

The Flyers (7-3-2) have points in five of their last six games and are one of the most surprising teams in the NHL. They’ve conceded 2.42 goals per game, the fourth-best in the NHL.

Among NHL goalies with at least six starts, Hart (6-0-2) is the only one undefeated in regulation. Hart is second in the NHL for save percentage (.946) and third in the GAA (1.97).

In Hart’s absence, Felix Sandstrom stopped 27 of 28 shots on Tuesday and scored his first NHL win.

“That was good to see,” Hart said, adding that he watched the early parts of the game before going to bed. “He works his ass off. Well deserved. He made a great game. I walked in and talked to him this morning and he was quite pumped. So good for him; it was good to see.”

The Flyers have had a much better defensive structure in their last two games, winning 2-1 in Ottawa and beating the Blues at home. They weren’t perfect in those two wins, but they didn’t allow for the inordinate amount of quality chances seen in previous games.

“From what I saw last night (in) the first two periods, it was one of our best games of the year. And in Ottawa, too,” Hart said. “In the last two games we played really solid as a team, and played (with) more structure and really hard. You can build on that.”

Tortorella was happy with the last two games but added a disclaimer.

“We reduced the chances a bit but it’s certainly not where it should be,” said Tortorella. “We relied too much on our goalkeepers. The last couple of games we played more as a team. We looked better organized defensively. But we have a lot of work ahead of us there.”

Tort’s return

Tortorella downplayed his return to Columbus, where he coached from 2015-16 to 2020-21. He said he was only focused on the Flyers and that he didn’t want to talk about returning to Columbus.

The veteran coach said he has a “tremendous amount of friends” in Columbus, but “I’m going back to coach the Flyers and try to win.”

Runaway

Ivan Provorov had a maintenance day and didn’t train. … Center Artem Anisimov, who is recovering from an injury, went ice skating before practice this week. …Egor Zamula was recalled by the Phantoms. … Former Flyer Chris “Bundy” Therien will sign way to salvation Wednesday nights from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Dagwood’s Pub in Northeast Philadelphia.

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