Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Mason finally off the schneid as Flyers beat Oilers to kick off homestand

Philadelphia,  PA -- It wasn't a classic, but he'll take it, bright lights or not.

Steve Mason stopped 35-of-36 shots to earn  his first  win  of the  season,  while Jakub  Voracek  tallied twice  as Philadelphia topped Edmonton by a 4-1 count on Tuesday.

Entering play, Mason was 0-4-1 with a 3.55 goals-against average along with an .887  save  percentage, and  the only  game in which  he participated that the Orange  and Black won,  was a 6-5 overtime decision on Oct. 18 in Dallas where he was pulled after allowing four goals on 18 shots in two periods.

"Yeah. He made some huge saves," was the understatement of Philly defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who was bailed out on Mason after his second-period turnover in the defensive zone. "We talked about that. Our commitment level of blocking shots and doing the little things. And I think it was there tonight, and we have to be consistent with that as well and I think that will help us win some more games."

Mason's last regular-season victory was a 38-save, 5-2 triumph in Florida on April 8, and his last regular-season home win was two days earlier, a 17-save effort against Buffalo with a similar final score. 

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Luke Schenn also lit the lamp for the Flyers, who kicked off a four-game homestand on the right note. The hosts were denied a man-advantage opportunity on home ice for the first time since Feb. 21, 2008 against the San Jose Sharks.

Ryan  Nugent-Hopkins  supplied the  lone offense  for the  Oilers, who began a five-game  road trip and lost despite committing one penalty and not giving up a  power-play  chance. Viktor  Fasth surrendered  all four  markers on just 25 shots.

Philly  took a 3-0 lead at 4:09 of the second, as Chris VandeVelde's one-timer from  the  left circle managed to  slither its way through Fasth's pads before Bellemare tapped it over the goal line.

Nugent-Hopkins then channeled speedy Oilers of generations past when he soloed from  the right wing  into the slot, beating two Flyers in the process, to put the Oilers on the board just shy of the midway point of regulation.

“I thought he willed it. I know he was moving his feet and he had the finish but as much skill that was there that goal was will," said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins. "He narrowed his eyes and said he was taking this and it was going in the net, and that’s what we need. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins leadership skills and his recognition of his importance to our team has grown over the summer."

The  Schenn brothers combined to restore the Flyers' three-goal edge at 12:01, with  forward Brayden  winning a  battle behind  the net  and dishing  back to defenseman Luke for a shot that beat Fasth through the crook of his arm. His goal was the 100th point in his brief career with the Leafs and Flyers.

Mason  slid  easily across  the crease from  right to left  to smother a David Perron shot from the left circle off a 3-on-2 break with just over two minutes left in the second.

Mason  kept his  club ahead by three  goals on an Edmonton power play early in the  third, extending  fully  to shunt  away  a Nail  Yakupov  drive with  his blocker.

The  Oilers  hit two  more posts in  the ensuing minutes,  and failed to solve Mason in the third period despite 10 shots on goal.

Voracek  took the  game's first penalty, but after exiting the box and taking his next shift, produced the game's first goal by retrieving his own blocked centering pass behind Fasth, changing direction and slamming the puck inside the right post at 3:59.

Voracek  doubled  the  hosts'  advantage with  3:56  remaining,  when  another attempted  pass found its way back to his stick for a successful shot from the high slot. With that score, the Czech native passed Jeremy Roenick alone into 50th place on the club's all-time scoring list.

“Yeah, he’s so powerful when he gets the puck. He’s skilled and at the same time he’s pretty dangerous offensively and I think that this year defensively he’s improved and gotten a lot better and that’s why were able to get more offense," said Flyers captain Claude Giroux of his top linemate, with whom he's combined in the early going to be the second-most productive tandem behind Pittsburgh's Crosby-Malkin duo. 

Notes: Voracek has collected six  multi-point efforts in 12 games this season and  also  recorded his  ninth two-goal  game as a  Flyer ... Philadelphia has taken  three  in a row on  home ice against  Edmonton, but the Oilers have won five  of  nine there  since 2000 ...  Prior to the  contest, the Flyers placed little-used  forward Blair  Jones on waivers with the purpose of assigning him to  Lehigh Valley  (AHL) ... The Oilers played without the services of forward Taylor  Hall (sprained  MCL) and  defenseman Andrew  Ference (suspension)  ... Flyers  forward Michael Raffl left the game in the third period after blocking a shot and was ruled to have suffered a lower-body injury.
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