Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mason returns to lead Flyers to 4-3 shootout victory over Coyotes

Image courtesy Amy Irvin - 38Photography.net
by: Hal Greenblatt
Phanatic Hockey Writer

Philadelphia, Pa -- Wayne Simmonds scored in the shootout for the Flyers as Steve Mason made all three saves, as the Flyers beat Arizona, 4-3.

Wayne Simmonds, RJ Umberger and Michael Del Zotto all scored for the Flyers. Mark Streit, Claude Giroux, Andrew MacDonald, Sean Couturier, Jake Voracek, and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare all recorded assists. Steve Mason entered the game in relief of Ray Emery after Emery allowed two goals on four shots. Mason finished the night with 24 saves. The Flyers have now won two in a row, and three of their last four.

Connor Murphy, Martin Erat, and Tobias Riedzer were the goal scorers for Arizona. Erat also had an assist. Shane Doan recorded two assists while Andrew Campbell, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Antoine Vermette each notched an assist. Mike Smith was strong in net for Arizona, making several highlight reel saves, en route to stopping 39/42 Flyer shots. Alas, the Coyotes have now lost seven straight.

In typical Flyer fashion, the Orange and Black jumped on the ice without a care in the world. Arizona would quickly jump on the lackluster Flyers, chasing Ray Emery to the bench, just 5:50 into the game.

"You feel for Razor," Mason said of Emery being pulled. "These games after long layoffs are real difficult for goalies. It was my job as the backup tonight to try and salvage something."

Connor Murphy got the scoring started, potting his third goal of the season at 3:33. Martin Erat would score on a big rebound, and severe defensive overplay by the entire team, as he shot the puck passed Emery.

Despite head coach Craig Berube's quick trigger on pulling Emery, he did not feel the team came out flat.

"I didn't think the team was flat, really," Berube stated. "I felt we needed something to boost us, give us life."

Steve Mason quickly entered the game, and the tide immediately turned. Rarely tested, Mason was up to the task saving all six shots he saw in the first period.

"It's almost probably easier not to expect anything and get thrown in," Mason spoke of his first game back since injury. "With the long layoff, there is obviously room for improvement."

Philadelphia would finally get on the scoreboard, as Wayne Simmonds notched his 17th of the year, a power play goal, off a rebound from a Mark Streit shot.

The Flyers, despite losing 2-1 after the first period, controlled the final twelve minutes and would carry that momentum into the second period.

Philadelphia dominated the early part of the second period, and if it were not from some spectacular saves by Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith (particularly on RJ Umberger), the Flyers would have had an insurmountable lead.

"Since early December, I've accepted my role and understood it more," Umberger said, while discussing his improved play.

Despite getting rejected on three separate one-time opportunities, Umberger continued to attack, as he tied the score at two a piece with 6:05 remaining in the period. Umberger took a pass from Andrew MacDonald and roofed the tying goal passed Smith for his ninth of the year.

The Flyers would continue to attack, leading to a beautiful snipe by Michael Del Zotto at 18:59. Del Zotto came in along the left wing, took a pass from Jake Voracek and skated in towards Smith. As Smith attempted to take away the near side angle, Del Zotto beat Smith up high to give the Flyers a lead, albeit, a short one. Just 24 seconds later, Coyotes winger Tobias Riedzer took a Shane Doan stretch pass to beat Mason on a breakaway, leaving the teams knotted at three, entering the third period.

"Those are goals you can't give up," Mason said regarding the tying goal with under one minute remaining in the second. "We can't have those opportunities and they can't be scoring goals at that time."

The Flyers and Coyotes played to a scoreless third period, but it was not without its action, as both teams had their chances. Alas, sixty minutes was not enough, as these two teams would head to overtime.

An extra session would not decide a winner, so the dreaded shootout waited for the Flyers, who entered with a record of 1-5.

But tonight would be different for the Broad Street Bullies. Despite battling the flu all weekend, Mason would deny the Coyotes on their three attempts, and the fans screams reaching a crescendo, it would be the "Wayne Train" scoring to send the Flyers faithful home happy.

Notes: The Flyers improved to 2-5 in the shootout while the Coyotes dropped to 3-4. . .Claude Giroux led the Flyers in hits with 9. . .Petr Straka had 13 shifts and 10:08 of ice time in his NHL debut...Ryan White won three of eight face-offs in his Flyer debut. . .Jake Voracek improved his league leading point total to 57 with a second period assist. . .
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