A look at the Philadelphia Flyers’ 4-3 shootout loss to the NHL-leading Boston Bruins on Sunday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center from the perspective of three players who each made a major impact on the game.
Despite the outcome, that was an awesome hockey game. It had everything a hockey fan could ever want. Can we get some three-on-three extended overtime, please, NHL?
Mar 15, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason (35) takes a break against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers defeated the Penguins, 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
3. Steve Mason
The Flyers netminder may not have made as many saves as his Bruins counterpart on Sunday afternoon, but Mason was just as excellent and really kept the Flyers in the game with some huge stops in the third period as his teammates tried to knot things up.
First, he made an excellent blocker save on a tricky wrist shot from Bruins winger Daniel Paille as Paille cut down the wing and used Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen as a screen. Shortly after, Mason made a remarkable save on the Bruins Carl Soderberg, who had beaten Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn, held on to the puck to get Mason moving and had an open net to shoot at. Or so he thought because Mason sprawled out and absolutely robbed him.
The NBC announcers even said to remember those saves if the Flyers came back, which they eventually did.
Sure, Mason wants to have Patrice Bergeron’s second-period goal back. It was a weak one from a bad angle that snuck underneath him. But Mason was there for his team when it needed him most. His glove hand was on point all game, too.
All told, Mason made 27 stops on the day and most were not of the easy variety.
He and the Flyers deserved a better fate at the end but so is life. A point is a point at this time of the year.
2. Vinny Lecavalier
It’s well known around these parts that Flyers head coach Craig Berube demoted Lecavalier, the Flyers’ prized offseason free-agent signing, from the second-line wing position to the fourth-line center spot before this past Friday’s game against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.
Lecavalier responded on Friday with a goal and one of his best games of the season. He continued to respond on Sunday with two goals, an impressive milestone and his best game of the year.
The 33-year-old opened the scoring when he blew a slapshot from the slot past Rask just over five minutes into the game. The goal was Lecavalier’s 400th of his career. No matter how you look at it, that’s an incredibly impressive accomplishment.
Then, with his team down a goal with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation, Lecavalier capped off a frantic scramble near the net by slamming home a loose puck to tie the game at three. That sent the game to overtime and allowed the Flyers to earn that crucial point in the standings.
The goals were his 17th and 18th of the year, respectively.
Getting demoted to the fourth line obviously had to be punch to the gut for a guy as accomplished as Lecavalier. But sometimes it can be a motivator for a player of that caliber and we’ve seen that over the past few games. He, Adam Hall and Zac Rinaldo even seem to have some chemistry together. Being back at his natural center position can’t hurt either.
Maybe Lecavalier is starting to peak at the right time. If he continues this kind of play down the stretch, he makes the Flyers that much more dangerous.
1. Tuukka Rask
If you wondered why Rask entered Sunday’s game as the leading candidate for the Vezina Trophy, he sure showed you and the Flyers why.
The Bruins goalie made 49 saves and a few more in the shootout to earn the victory for his team. And boy, did he ever earn it.
The Flyers dominated the game for stretches at a time and especially poured it on in the third period. But Rask had every answer until that kooky, bouncy play that tied the game in the waning seconds.
His save on a Claude Giroux shot near the end of the second period when he dove across the net to rob the Flyers captain was pretty remarkable.
The dude stood on his head the entire game. What a performance.
Outside of lackluster second period when the Bruins really carried the play and momentum, the Flyers again showed they can hang with the big boys of the league. Sure, the shootout loss was a pretty crummy ending but that point was well-deserved. They deserved a better fate but that point is clutch.
These two teams meet again this upcoming Saturday in Boston but next up on the schedule from hell is a trip to St. Louis on Tuesday.