STONE COLD STUNNER
Mason makes 41 saves - and three more in shootout - to steal 4-3 win for Flyers
VANCOUVER – All you needed to do to understand the Flyers 4-3 shootout win in Vancouver Monday night was listen to Craig Berube’s press conference.
It was quite short – 30 words to be exact. Here it is in its entirety:
Q: A good workout for your goaltender tonight?
Q: How do you think he played?
Berube: Good. Real good.
Q:Do you feel like he stole two points for you guys?
Berube: Mm Hmm.
Q:How would you assess the job the rest of your team did?
Berube: Not very good.
Q: What about it wasn’t very good?
Berube: Couldn’t defend.
Q: That’s it?
Q: Obviously you weren’t happy with the way the team played, so you expect a lot more tomorrow night against Calgary?
Berube: They better defend a lot better than they did tonight or they’ll be in trouble.
Q: That’s the message? Or is there anything else you want to say?
Berube: Nope. That’s it.
And that pretty much was it. Steve Mason has won some games for the Flyers this season with his play in goal, but none like this.
None where he had to make 41 saves. None where he had to stop Daniel Sedin on breakaways – twice. None where he had to make a sprawling paddle stop on Chris Higgins after a bad defensive turnover. None where he had to thwart multiple odd-man rushes, and continually do his best Soup Nazi impersonation to David Booth.
And certainly none where he had to make every save in a shootout against one of the most gifted offensive teams in the NHL.
“We’ve been saying that [he stole two points for us] a lot this year,” said Brayden Schenn, who scored the tying goal with 46.8 seconds to play. “He was our best player tonight and he bailed us out of a tough situation.”
And it was tough. As lopsided as the Flyers win was in Edmonton where it didn’t seem right that they had to take it to a shootout, it was equally tilted against them in Vancouver where the Canucks controlled the whole game and should have won – were it not for Mason.
Which is why Berube was beside himself.
The defense was shoddy for most of the night. Plus/minus isn’t a great indicator, but Luke Schenn and Andrej Meszaros deserved every bit of their combined minus-5. Mark Streit scored a goal and was very active offensively, but had a couple questionable plays on the defensive side of the puck. Braydon Coburn turned the puck over that Mason had to thwart to prevent it from becoming a goal.
But it wasn’t just the defensemen. The forwards were not good helping out in their own end. There was a lack of communication at times. Bad passes. No-look clears. Unnecessary penalties.
All masked by the masked man in net.
The Flyers did score three goals in regulation though. All of which were on fine plays – so they did have their shining moments.
Michael Raffl, who posted his third multi-point game in the last ten contests, took the puck hard to the net and got off a backhander that Eddie Lack stopped, but the rebound went to Streit who backhanded it home to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
It was the only need the Flyers would have all night though until the shootout. That’s because former Flyer Tom Sestito scored a loose-puck goal and Jannik Hansen scored on a pretty give-and-go with Daniel Sedin to give the Canucks the lead.
The Flyers tied it late in the second period when Raffl feathered a pass to Claude Giroux who split two defenders, and then, with one defender hanging all over him, was able to beat Lack to the five-hole to tie the score.
|Michael Raffl set up Claude Giroux for the second Flyers goal, but this game was all about goalie Steve Mason who made 41 saves to steal the win.|
Giroux finished with a goal and an assist and now has a career-high nine game point streak, the longest active streak in the NHL.
"Their D shot it in their zone and [Raffl] was right there,” Giroux said. “I don't remember much besides going to the net and trying to put the puck on net… Me and Jake [Voracek] played together last year and now for [Raffl] to come in, new in the league, new on the team with new teammates it's never easy. But he's been doing a great job for us and he's been playing very well."
The Flyers were trying to hang in with the Canucks in the third period, but Vancouver was pressing really hard and the Flyers had no answer – except for Mason.
But then a shot from Daniel Sedin was waffled away by Mason only to hit Luke Schenn’s shin pad and pop over Mason into the net giving the Canucks seemingly the game-winning goal with 2:48 to play.
But then the Flyers ramped up the pressure, and Sean Couturier won a critical offensive zone draw with an extra attacker on the ice, Matt Read swooped in and picked up the puck, skated patiently to a good position on the ice and snapped a pass to a streaking Brayden Schenn on the back door.
Except, the pass never got there, hitting a body in front of Lack. Good thing Scott Hartnell was there to alertly tap the pass to Schenn who banged it home, scoring for the first time in 16 games and tying the score.
“It feels good,” Brayden Schenn said. “It was long overdue. Monkey off the back. It’s a weight lifted off your shoulders.”
And he helped Luke out too by getting his brother off the hook for his flukey goal against.
“He said, ‘Thanks for bailing me out,’” Brayden said. “He said, ‘I got one and you got one.’ But seriously, it was good to get a game-[tying goal].”
The game quickly moved through overtime into the shootout, and with a second chance at getting the win, Mason was outstanding, stopping all three shots that came his way, including the final one on Daniel Sedin that elicited a primal shout and on-ice celebration from Mason.
“He played unbelievable,” said Vinny Lecavalier, who scored the game-winner with a nifty deke in the shootout. “When you give up 40-some shots against… [Mason] made some huge saves. He was solid. He’s been solid all year. He’s been unbelievable.”
NOTES: It was the first time the Flyers won consecutive games via shootout since March, 2006 and only the second time in franchise history… Both Voracek (nine games) and Wayne Simmonds (six games) saw their points streaks come to an end… Giroux now has 37 points and has moved into the top 20 in the NHL in scoring (17th)… Streit led the team in shots on goal with five… The Flyers (19-16-4, 42 points) moved back into sole possession of third place in the Metropolitan Division and within three points of second place Washington and both Wild Card teams (Detroit and Toronto) and the Flyers have games in hand against all three teams… Mason is now 6-0-2 in his last eight starts, including five straight wins.
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