Mason Returns; Steals Show In Game 4
Imagine Steve Mason as Robin Hood: stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.
Now imagine Henrik Lundqvist as a king, which shouldn't be too hard to do. If the Flyers were going to steal a game from Lundqvist and the Rangers, it was going to happen with Mason in net.
Mason made his first start in two weeks, stopping 37 shots in the process of beating the Rangers 2-1 on Friday. It evened the series and gave the Flyers new life heading into New York.
Mason saw a lot of shots early and did a good job at keeping the puck out of the net before settling into a groove.
"I hadn’t played in almost two weeks so it was good to feel the puck right away, make some saves, gain a little bit of confidence and carry that forward through the rest of the game,” Mason said.
It was also the first career playoff win for Mason, who made his fifth career playoff start and sixth appearance. His only other playoff appearances came in the 2009 Western Conference Quarterfinals when his Blue Jackets were shut out by the Red Wings.
"It's great," Mason said. "I have waited a long time for it, but one win doesn’t do very much in the long run.”
Ray Emery played well for the Flyers in his three starts, but not well enough to steal games. Emery is a serviceable backup during the season, but in the post season, teams need something much more than a backup when playing against a team with one of the best goalies in the game.
Lundqvist was sharp again, stopping 23 of the 25 shots he faced. But he wasn't tested as much again.
Fortunately for the Flyers, they were able to find some holes in the King's armor. Matt Read and Jakub Voracek scored their fourth career playoff goals, the latter coming on the power play.
More than four minutes after New York scored the game's first goal, Read tied the game up, taking a little bit of heat off his netminder. Jason Akeson banked a nice pass off the boards behind the net, which went straight to Read's stick before he beat Lundqvist.
“[Akeson is] a good play maker and he’s got good composure with the puck," coach Craig Berube said. "He’s not a big guy but he’s strong on the puck.
The Flyers were 1-for-2 on the power play, a percentage Voracek didn't think was too shabby.
"I think we moved the puck a little bit better," Voracek said. "We had a couple good looks there and how many power plays did we have? Two? Fifty percent isn’t bad so..."
But the real story goes back to Mason.
The Flyers out-shot 16-6 in the first period, resulting in a Ranger goal by Dominic Moore. Mason was forced to shake off his rust a lot sooner in order to keep the damage to a minimum.
Mason stopped 33 consecutive shots following Moore's wrap-around goal in the first period. And with each shot stopped, the intense Philadelphia crowd backed their netminder.
“It was a lot of fun to get back out there in this atmosphere at the Wells Fargo Center," Mason said. "It’s second to none in my opinion.
Watching it on TV prior to getting to this organization and now that I actually get to play in front of that kind of crowd, it’s hard to describe. It’s a lot of fun.”
The Flyers played a majority of the game with five defensemen.
Nicklas Grossmann left the game with a lower-body injury after awkwardly hitting the boards. His right skate appeared to get caught and his leg buckled in the impact.
If Grossmann is unable to play in Game 5, expect the Flyers to go in a few different directions. They could replace Grossmann with a similar player in Oliver Lauridsen or the more experienced Hal Gill, or go for a smaller, more offensive minded player in Erik Gustafsson.