Scott Hartnell (left) and Steve Mason congratulate each other after the Flyers' 5-2 win over the Senators. (USA Today Images)
Marvelous. Spectacular. Inspiring.
On so many given nights this season, any one of those words could describe the efforts of Flyers goalie Steve Mason, who deserves to have far more wins right now than the six for which he is credited.
Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators, Mason worked his magic again during a 5-2 victory (see Instant Replay). He had a number of quality saves through the first 40 minutes that gave his team a chance. He even put them in position to win.
“He’s been bailing us out a lot,” said defenseman Nick Grossmann, who assisted Mason with two saves with his feet on Kyle Turris in the third period (see story).
“I said it before, he has been our best player the whole year. It’s good to have a guy like that and know he is there if stuff breaks down. Sometimes it just feels nice to return the favor.
“You try to do whatever you can to help him and that’s how it has to work. We need him to be our best player pushing forward here to try to be successful -- that’s what we need.”
The Flyers turned a 2-2 tie in the third period into a win with a dominating performance in the last stanza, something that Mason hasn’t had on his side much of the year.
“Earlier in the season, guys were really struggling to find their games,” Mason said. “You can see it now that guys are starting to play with a lot more confidence, making real nice passes that normally they weren’t making early on in the year.
“So with them coming around with their game and the confidence building, you’re going to see a much tighter hockey game. With us coming back with the two goals in the third period ... that’s what the team is known for in the past -- coming back and having big goals and big opportunities. It’s nice to see and let’s just hope that it keeps continuing.”
Mason even had a penalty shot save on Turris, too, after the Grossmann save.
The victory moved the Flyers within two points of a playoff spot. It also lifted them above .500 (8-7-2) under coach Craig Berube.
Pretty good way to begin a three-game homestand at Wells Fargo Center, where the Flyers are now 4-7 this season.
“It’s huge,” Mason said. “We haven’t been a good hockey club at home. We’ve had leads going into the thirds, let them go and lost a lot of valuable points, so to continue this stronger play that we have on the road and bringing it home for the first of a three-game home stanza is nice to see.”
Berube was impressed with the third period, which began with his team leading, 2-1. Unlike the shootout loss in Winnipeg in which the Flyers failed to close out a win, Berube's club did the opposite on Tuesday.
“It was a very good response by our team,” Berube said. “I thought the whole third period we played to win that game.
“It's encouraging, good to see. Maybe we got a break on [Grossmann’s save]. I don't now. I haven't looked at it yet.”