Flyers-Jets 10 observations: Mason backstops team to impressive win

Flyers-Jets 10 observations: Mason backstops team to impressive win

The Flyers picked up a really good win on Thursday night with a 5-2 decision over the Winnipeg Jets at the Wells Fargo Center after letting one slip through their fingertips on Tuesday night (see Instant Replay).

Let’s get into the action with 10 observations:

1. Strong response by the Flyers. The Jets came to town with the NHL’s top goal scorer (Patrik Laine), No. 1 point getter (Mark Scheifele) and four wins in their last five games, a span in which they outscored opponents 20-9. But the orange and black, for once, put it all together with good offensive and defensive play backed by strong goaltending.

2. An underrated performance by Steve Mason. Neither of the two goals allowed were bad. The one was just a product of beautiful passing by the Jets. Mason made some quality saves and difficult stops against an offense that was rolling. He finished with 30 saves after calling himself out the game prior.

3. Mark Streit made up for the absence of Shayne Gostisbehere and his mighty shot by lacing a slap shot home in the second period to extend the Flyers’ lead to 3-1. Gostisbehere was sitting up in the press box wearing a suit. He was pretty emotionless as expected after being healthy-scratched by head coach Dave Hakstol. Streit leads all Flyers defensemen in goals (four) and points (11). Trade bait when the deadline comes?

4. You can’t fault Matt Read’s drive. He works his tail off and that’s why he’s hung on to his job and spot in the lineup after underwhelming the past two seasons. General manager Ron Hextall and Hakstol extolled the 30-year-old prior to training camp for his work ethic. So far this season, it’s paid off. His hustle set up the Flyers’ second goal in the first period. Read won a foot race to the puck by full-out diving and whacking a pass to Michael Raffl all alone for a breakaway tally.

5. Sean Couturier scored three goals in the first three games of the season. Since then, he went a bit quiet goal-wise. He started the game’s scoring with a nice shot top shelf to give him just his second marker in 15 games since the opening three.

6. Claude Giroux registered an assist, giving him 364 in his career. He’s now three away from passing Rod Brind’Amour (366) for seventh on the Flyers’ all-time list, and six from passing Rick MacLeish (369) and Eric Lindros (369) for fifth. Giroux has quietly put up at least one point in 14 of the Flyers’ 18 games.

7. Nick Cousins is a scrappy guy and unafraid to stand up for himself against the big boys. The 5-foot-10, 188-pound forward mixed it up with 6-foot-3, 219-pound defenseman Ben Chiarot. At one point, Chiarot had a firm grip of Cousins’ face as the two were pressed up against the glass following a whistle.

8. Flyers prospect Pascal Laberge was in the press box with the healthy scratches as he continues to recover from a concussion suffered on this vicious hit. The 18-year-old has not played for his junior club Victoriaville since Oct. 15, the day of the hit. Laberge, drafted by the Flyers in the second round this June, is a kid that’s been through quite a bit.

9. This was just the second time the Flyers scored four or more goals and allowed two or fewer in the same game this season.

10. It was Tough Guys Night at the Wells Fargo Center as part of the season-long celebration of the Flyers’ 50th anniversary. Throughout the game, the Flyers honored some of the organization’s toughest players with video tributes and arena-vision interviews.

Capitals reclaim sole possession of Metro lead

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Capitals reclaim sole possession of Metro lead

WASHINGTON — T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom and Matt Niskanen scored as the Washington Capitals swept a home-and-home set against the skidding New York Islanders with a 6-3 win on Friday night.

Alex Chiasson had a goal and two assists for the Capitals, who hammered the Islanders 7-3 in New York on Thursday. Jakub Vrana's goal gave Washington a 5-1 lead with 9:04 remaining. Lars Eller added an empty-netter, and Braden Holtby made 22 saves.

Washington broke a tie with the idle Pittsburgh Penguins for sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals' four-game winning streak is their longest since taking five in a row from Dec. 28 to Jan. 9.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington's second-leading scorer, left in the second period and did not return after sustaining an upper-body injury, according to the team.

Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson and John Tavares scored for the Islanders, who have lost 10 of 11 (see full recap).

Hoffman lifts Senators over Stars in OT
OTTAWA, Ontario — Mike Hoffman scored at 3:26 of overtime and the Ottawa Senators beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Friday night to win their third game in a row for just the second time this season.

Ottawa won on home ice for the first time since Feb. 17.

Marian Gaborik and Matt Duchene also scored for the Senators (26-33-11), and Craig Anderson made 23 saves.

Tyler Seguin and Tyler Pitlick had the goals for the Stars (38-26-8). Ben Bishop, who stopped 22 shots, made his first start since missing five games with a knee injury sustained March 5 against the Senators. Bishop has a 9-0-4 career record against Ottawa.

Dallas has lost four straight, its longest skid of the season (see full recap).

Predators rally past Coyotes
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Nashville Predators keep rolling toward the best regular season in franchise history.

Kevin Fiala and Kyle Turris each had a goal and assist in the third period, leading Nashville to a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night. Ryan Ellis also scored to help the Western Conference-leading Predators get their 21st road win of the season and improve to 12-0-1 in their last 13 games overall. Pekka Rinne finished with 32 saves.

Nashville, which reached the Stanley Cup Final a year ago after earning the second wild card in the West, has 102 points through 70 games, and needs nine more in its final 12 games to set a new franchise record (see full recap).

Alex Lyon can save the Flyers' season

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Alex Lyon can save the Flyers' season

Lost amid the Flyers’ 5-3 defeat at the hands Blue Jackets on Thursday was yet another stellar relief appearance in goal from Alex Lyon.

Lyon was sensational after replacing Petr Mrazek between the pipes early in the second period, stopping all 18 shots that came his way. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol praised the rookie netminder for giving his team an opportunity to come from behind.

“He’s a battler, and that’s what we asked from him last night going into that situation,” Hakstol said following Friday’s practice.

“You need to have a mindset of going in there and absolutely slamming the door to give your team a chance to win. In order to do that, you have to have a real battling mentality, and I thought he had that right from when he stepped in the net.”

Success in a sort of stopper role has become increasingly commonplace for Lyon since joining the Flyers.

Lyon came off the bench to make five saves during the final eight minutes of a 5-3 loss to the Capitals in his January debut. The 25-year-old later earned his first NHL win against the Rangers in February, blocking 25 of 26 shots over the second and third periods to help procure a 7-4 victory.

His play has been on the rise ever since. Lyon appears to be improving with experience, posting a 2-1-0 record with a .939 save percentage in his last four games.

“I don’t know if I’d say confidence so much as comfortability,” Lyon said of his growth. “I think I always had the confidence in myself that I could do it. It’s just you have to get comfortable enough to kind of believe that.”

He shined as a substitute goaltender all along. Including his performance against the Blue Jackets, Lyon has amassed a .980 save percentage in three relief appearances — a number emblematic of his season.

Lyon began 2017-18 as the emergency-goalie-in-waiting at Lehigh Valley. He earned the call-up to the Flyers’ main roster after the injury to Brian Elliott, then saw an uptick in ice time due to Michal Neuvirth’s subsequent maladies.

The club traded for Petr Mrazek after Neuvirth went down, but Lyon still finds himself in the mix. He’s expected to start against the Hurricanes on Saturday — a pivotal contest for the Flyers’ bid to make the playoffs.

“It’s extremely exciting,” Lyon said. “This is what you think about when you’re a little kid.

“It’s not quite the same, but down in Allentown we were in a pretty hot playoff race last year and always at the top of the standings, so I’m going to draw on my past experiences.”

Elliott returned to the ice this week and could be back in uniform soon, at which time Lyon will be sent back to the minor leagues. But if the Flyers do manage to reach the postseason, his fill-in contributions will have played a big part.

Perhaps Lyon will even warrant a closer look for a full-time spot on the Flyers’ roster next season.