VANCOUVER, British Columbia – It’s not often that a goalie who lets in three goals in a game is heralded as a team’s best player.
But it’s also not every day that goaltender, Steve Mason in this case, faces 44 shots and nonstop pressure from the opposition. That’s what happened Monday night in Vancouver, as Mason carried the Flyers on his shoulders on the way to a 4-3 shootout victory over the Canucks (see Instant Replay).
“Actually, I enjoyed it,” he said. “It was nice to get into a game and feel like you’re doing something out there.”
Because of Mason, the Flyers were neck and neck with the Canucks all night, despite being outshot by a wide margin each period. They led after the first period, were tied after the second, and thanks to Brayden Schenn’s goal with 43 seconds left in regulation, pushed the game to overtime and finally a shootout.
None of it would have been possible without Mason.
“It’s the same story as the start of the year,” Claude Giroux said. “He kept us in the games, now to kind of get a win for him, it’s huge. He’s unbelievable. The saves he’s making, he’s our hardest-working guy. So when our goalie’s the hardest-working guy, obviously the players are going to follow.”
Mason capped off his effort by stopping all three shooters he faced in the shootout. The game marked just the second time in Flyers history the team won back-to-back shootouts -- and Mason was in net for both.
“He was awesome once again,” Schenn said. “We’ve been saying that a lot this year. He was obviously one of our better players tonight. He played well and bailed us out of a lot of situations.”
Of course, it wasn’t just Mason who demonstrated resiliency Monday night. Giroux’s goal to tie the game in the second period was a beauty. So too was Vinny Lecavalier’s shootout-winner. The fact that the Flyers refused to quit even after Daniel Sedin’s third-period goal was proof they've moved beyond their rough start to the season.
The Flyers fought in a way Monday, Mason said, they likely wouldn’t have been capable of just a month or two ago.
“Realistically speaking, probably not,” he said. “We were very fragile back then. I think tonight we didn’t have our best game, but it’s nights like this where if you’re able to come out on top, the two points down the road are definitely going to be huge. For the guys to show that kind of resiliency and come right back after a pretty deflating goal was nice.”
Coach Craig Berube, however, wasn’t pleased with the Flyers’ effort at Rogers Arena.
Yes, he agreed Mason had a strong night. Yes, he nodded Mason stole the Flyers two points. But he was clearly displeased with what he saw.
The Flyers weren’t thrilled with their efforts, either, though the mood in the locker room was lighter than Berube’s mood.
“I think we can be better,” Giroux said. “At some points during the game we were playing well, but I think we need to be more consistent of how we play. I think we’ve got a way of how we want to play, and we need to play the way we want to play. We got goals, so it kind of kept us in the game.”
The Flyers pick up their road trip Tuesday night in Calgary. Despite playing the game less than 24 hours after their win in Vancouver, it’s a winnable game -- and a chance to build off of their 2-0 start to this six-game road trip.
It is, however, far from a guaranteed victory.
“They better defend a lot better than they did tonight,” Berube said. “Or they’ll be in trouble.”