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Mason makes 34 saves in virtuoso Music City performance

Sunday, 12.1.2013 / 12:14 AM ET / News
By Anthony SanFilippo  - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter
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NASHVILLE – Steve Mason doesn’t seem to give up any bad goals. So, when Colin Wilson beat him under his right pad with a knuckleball, you could see the frustration on Mason’s face.

Never mind that he had kept the Flyers in the game to that point. Never mind that without him the Flyers would have been in a bad way to start the road trip.

The old Mason – the one that crumbled under mounting pressure and lost confidence in Columbus, may have let that goal eat away at him and allow the game to slip away.

The new Mason, the one who has undoubtedly been the best player on the Flyers this season, and arguably one of the best goalies in the NHL as well, responded with sheer awesomeness.

He finished with 34 saves and added two more in a shootout that don’t show up on the score sheet, but made the difference between one and two points as the Flyers defeated the Predators 3-2 at Bridgestone Arena.

Time and again Nashville had the puck in the Flyers end due to sloppy play, be it turnovers or lost battles on 50/50

Claude Giroux celebrates with his teamamtes after his first period goal. The Flyers finished the month of November with a 9-4-2 record.

pucks, but they had a harder time solving Mason then understanding the golden ratio Phi (or approximately 1.618 for you non-math geeks).

“It’s not the first time we’ve seen that [from him],” said captain Claude Giroux, who scored the first Flyers goal in the opening period on a slap shot of a loose puck in the high slot. “He’s been solid for us. At one point during the game he was a little sloppy and he shut the door for us. It kind of gave us our confidence back.”

The confidence, which was in danger of waning much of the night, came back in the third period with the team trailing 2-1 when Andrej Meszaros made a great play with the puck, faking like he was going to carry it behind the Nashville net before spinning around and putting it on the tape of Sean Couturier who roofed it for his third goal of the season and second in as many days.

“He made a great play there,” Couturier said. “[Steve Downie] deserves credit on the play too for drawing everyone to him and then dropping it to [Meszaros]. Meszaros then made a nice move to get it over [to me.]”

From there, Mason took over.

He stopped a lot of close in shots but there was nothing better than the breakaway save on Wilson with 30 seconds left in overtime, flashing a left pad on him to make the stop, and drawing even with Wilson for the earlier goal.

Then, in the shootout, it was a right pad on Craig Smith to start which was key but paled in comparison to the next save.

Vinny Lecavalier scored the lone goal in the shootout, lifting it over the glove of Marek Mazenec for a 3-2 Flyers win.

After Vinny Lecavalier took the Tortoise’s approach to a shootout goal (‘Slow and steady wins the race’), Matt Hendricks made a deft move to try and tie it. Mason was fooled by the move, but never gave up on the play and made an astounding recovery to thwart the effort.

“I bit hard on his first move and was kind of down and out,” Mason said. “But that’s one of those battling types of saves that I try to work on in practice where if you have a second opportunity you are not giving up. I’ve said it before they come through in games and that was an opportunity for one right there.”

A final chance for Nashville by Matt Cullen missed high over the net, securing the win for Mason and the Flyers.

Mason finally has a winning record at 9-8-2 and continues to climb the leader board statistically.

Among the 27 goalies with at least 800 minutes in net, Mason ranks sixth in goals against average at 2.09 and fourth in save percentage at .934.

“Since the start of the year he’s been unbelievable and he’s making key saves at the right time,” Couturier said. “He’s keeping us in games when we aren’t playing our best. He’s our key player for sure.”

Key enough to get the Flyers back to faux .500 (12-12-2, 26 points) and keep pace in the Metropolitan Division with the teams ahead of them who also won Saturday.

“It was an ugly win,” Giroux said. “I think we know that we can play better and that we can have better plays out there. At the end we got it done and we just have to move forward and try to get better there.”

NOTES: The Flyers won in Nashville for the first time since March 21, 2000. They had been 0-1-4 (two ties, two shootout losses) in Nashville since… Mason picked up his first shootout win as a Flyer, while Vincent Lecavalier scored his first shootout goal as a Flyer… After dropping their first four games this season played on back-to-back nights, the Flyers are 5-1 since and have won four straight… Giroux’s goal was unassisted. Combine that with the two unassisted goals against Winnipeg Friday and it was the first time the Flyers had recorded three consecutive unassisted goals since February and March of 2009.

To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers




1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47


C. Giroux 53 16 29 -8 45
J. Voracek 53 8 35 -3 43
W. Simmonds 53 20 16 -7 36
B. Schenn 51 15 15 1 30
S. Gostisbehere 35 9 20 4 29
S. Couturier 40 9 15 9 24
M. Read 51 9 9 -5 18
M. Raffl 53 7 7 5 14
S. Laughton 52 4 10 -7 14
M. Del Zotto 51 4 9 -8 13
S. Mason 13 14 7 .917 2.65
M. Neuvirth 11 6 2 .933 2.14
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