Aside from the sellout crowd at Verizon Center, which taunted Flyers goaltender Steve Mason throughout Saturday night’s 4-1 victory, there was a concerted compassion exhibited toward the 27-year-old netminder after his second-period blunder resulted in Jason Chimera’s game-winning goal.
“I tried to put it in the corner. I messed up,” Mason said of his swing and a miss on Chimera’s 101-foot chip shot that slid between his legs. “(I) can say it over and over again, ‘It’s a bad goal.’”
Chimera’s goal, which tied him with Peter Bondra for the most game-winning playoff goals in team history (six), was a deflating one for the Flyers, who were trailing the Caps 1-0 at the time.
At the other end of the ice, Braden Holtby (41 saves) could feel Mason’s pain.
“I couldn’t even watch the replay of it,” Holtby said. “As a fellow goalie, you never want to see that happen."
“As a competitor you just don’t want to see it and you feel for the other guy. He’ll come back and he’ll come back hard.”
He’ll have to. The Capitals now lead the first-round series two games to none and will look to put a stranglehold on the series Monday night in South Philadelphia.
“Mase bailed us out so many times,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “I’m not too worried about that."
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said he hasn’t even given thought about who his starting goaltender would be in Game 3, but it sounds like Mason will return to the nets.
“Mase has been outstanding for us. We’re going to do what’s best for our hockey team. Mase has been a guy that’s carried us through different parts of this season and no question down the stretch, He’s been a guy that’s done a great job for us. I haven’t considered (changing goalies) but that’s how I feel about Mase.”
In the first two games of the series, Mason has allowed six goals on 54 shots, while Holtby has allowed one goal on 61 shots. That, and the fact the Capitals are 3-for-8 on the power play and 8-for-8 on the penalty kill, is a big reason the Capitals will carry a two-game series into Philadelphia.
“You can ask anyone in here, Holts will get all the credit in the world,” said Caps right wing T.J. Oshie. “I thought our D and our low forwards did a really good job limiting their second chances and now we have to continue that.”
They’ll get that chance on Monday in what should be an emotional Wells Fargo Center. Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said the crowd noise from Games 1 and 2 might be the loudest he’s heard in his eight seasons in Washington.
“The last game and this game might be the best that I’ve heard the crowd since I’ve been here,” he said. “After the anthem, during the anthem, the way everyone is yelling ‘Red’ and ‘O,’ is some of the loudest I’ve heard. It gets us more fired up than some people understand. The louder the crowd the better game you’re going to see.”
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