Flyers-Flames: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Flames: 5 things you need to know

The Flyers (29-23-6) and Flames (22-28-7) meet for the final time this season today.

It’s also the last game for both teams for a few weeks as the NHL breaks for the Olympics.

Puck drop is set for 1 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center (CSN).

Here are five things you need to know:

1. Finish strong
The Flyers are rolling right now and it’s important to head into the break with two more points, especially considering the quality of opponent they’re facing today.

Winning four of their last five, the Flyers have three straight wins over three of the best teams in the Western Conference -- the Kings, Sharks and Avalanche. They had a tough 5-3 loss to the Ducks last week, but played Anaheim extremely well.

This is the problem with the Flyers and their inconsistency. They beat teams you’d expect them to lose to, but then fall to teams you’d expect them to beat. There is no excuse for the Orange and Black to leave Wells Fargo Center today without a victory.

Calgary is a team in transition and six games under .500. However, it is riding a hot streak of its own. The Flames have won six of their last seven games, but they’re still a team the Flyers should beat.

The Flyers beat the Flames, 4-1, on New Year’s Eve. Losing to Calgary to enter the break would be a dagger in the Flyers’ hearts. It’s a critical game.

2. Loving the West
Steve Mason misses the Western Conference, because this season he’s tearing it apart.

In his last 10 games vs. Western Conference teams, Mason is 7-2-1 with a 2.26 goals-against average and .928 save percentage, including a shutout. This year, he’s 10-6-2 with a 2.30 GAA and .925 save percentage against his former conference.

The 25-year-old has rebounded quite nicely in the last couple of weeks after a rough patch. He’s allowed seven goals in his last five games, including two shutouts. His confidence appears back, which is great because the Flyers’ defense still has its warts.

Mason has faced the Flames a fair amount in his career, posting pedestrian numbers. In 13 games vs. Calgary, Mason has a 5-4-3 record with a 2.97 GAA and .892 save percentage with one shutout.

In the prior meeting between these two teams this year, Mason had the night off. While the Flyers would probably like to get Ray Emery one more start before the break, it’s not a good idea to let Mason have more time off than needed.

3. Getting offensive
What’s behind the Flames’ recent stretch?

Calgary’s offense has been electric in its last seven games, scoring 25 goals -- 3.57 goals per game, 1.25 more goals per game than its season average.

The Flames' only loss during the span was a 2-0 shutout in Montreal.

Youngsters Mikael Backlund, 24, and Sean Monahan, 19, have carried the offense of late. Backlund has 10 points in his last six games, while Monahan has five points -- three goals -- during the stretch.

Monahan, the Flames’ first-round pick in 2013 (sixth overall), leads the team with 16 goals.

Jiri Hudler leads the team with 43 points. He has just three points in the Flames’ last seven games.

4. Three's Company
With Karri Ramo battling a lower-body injury, Reto Berra will get the call again in net.

Berra has started the last three games and he’s been good enough to win but not spectacular. He’s 2-1-0 in those games, but he allowed one goal in the loss; in the two wins, he allowed five goals.

The 27-year-old was in net when the Flyers scored four goals on Calgary on Dec. 31. He stopped 17 of 20 shots in the loss, as the Orange and Black also added an empty netter.

On the season, Berra has a 3.06 GAA and .896 save percentage. Given how well Mason has been playing, three goals on Berra today should be enough for a victory.

5. This and that

• Mark Streit has power-play goals in his last two games. He had two in the first 56 games.

• The Flyers have a PP goal in each of their last eight games. It's the longest active streak in NHL.

• Calgary has won four of its last five games in Philadelphia.

• Monahan’s 16 goals are the most goals by a Flames rookie since Dion Phaneuf had 20 in 2006-07.

• When Claude Giroux scores, the Flyers are 15-2-1 this season.

Connor McDavid: Brandon Manning made 'classless' comments about injury

Connor McDavid: Brandon Manning made 'classless' comments about injury

Connor McDavid scored his first power-play goal of the season in the second period during the Flyers' 6-5 win on Thursday night (see Instant Replay). After his 12th goal of the year, McDavid made a point to stare down and exchange words with Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning.

In the first period, Manning and McDavid were in the middle of a scrum after the whistle, chirping each other (see 10 observations). The battle between the two roots back to when Manning broke the rising superstar’s collarbone November 2015 during a play against the boards in Edmonton.

“You know what, I did all I could defending him last year in the media," McDavid said after Thursday's game. "I didn’t want to make a big deal saying he did it on purpose.

"He wanted to make some comments today about what went on last year and I thought it was one of the classless things I’ve ever seen on the ice. He said some things and our guys responded accordingly.

"We can put the whole 'he did it on purpose' thing to rest, because what he said out there confirmed that. It shows what kind of guy he is, how he doesn’t step up and fight some of our guys.”

Manning received death threats from Edmonton fans last season, and responded after the game Thursday, reiterating the play that injured McDavid was an accident.

"I think anybody who knows me or who has played with or against me along the road here," Manning said, "knows that I am not that kind of player. I am not out there intentionally trying to hurt people. I'm a guy who plays the game hard and I take pride in that.

"I think going back to last year, it was a total accident. I mean, there were three players involved and there was never any intention of hurting anyone."

The injury ended up costing McDavid a few months, and a year later, the tension is still high between him and Manning.

As the second period moved along, McDavid continued to make plays for the Oilers. At the 4:35 mark in the second period, he took the puck away from the Flyers and then helped set up Andrej Sekera for a shorthanded goal that tied the game, 3-3.

The shorthanded goal helped give the Oilers momentum at the end of the period, but they could not carry it over to the third. The loss Thursday is the second night in a row in which Edmonton lost a game it looked like it was going to win.

“I’m not too sure what it is but I think we will figure it out,” McDavid said. "I’m not too sure what it is, like I said before. Something we need to figure out real fast here.”

Flyers top Oilers in thriller for seventh straight win

Flyers top Oilers in thriller for seventh straight win

BOX SCORE

Close your eyes and it was the 1980s all over again with the Edmonton Oilers piling up goals and Grant Fuhr giving up just as many.
 
Last goal wins.
 
Ah, but this is a different era with Connor McDavid not Wayne Gretzky.
 
Yet instead of McDavid, the NHL’s leading scorer, it was Michael Raffl scoring last as the Flyers twice overcame a two-goal deficit to burn the Oilers, 6-5, Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).
 
That’s seven wins in succession for the Flyers, who are now tied for second in the Metro Division with the Rangers (35 points).
 
“We never give up no matter what the score is,” Jakub Voracek said. “We come back. We have a lot of good offensive players. We showed it again. Raffl was outstanding. He had a lot of scoring chances and he came up big.”

So many Flyers made critical plays. Voracek (plus-3) had a four-point game to go with the nifty pass off the offensive boards to Raffl, who then made a sharp cut to the net to wrist the puck past Jonas Gustavsson.
 
“Jakey banked it off the wall there and he wants me to make that play all the time, and he’s been hard on me about that,” said Raffl, who had a power move for the game-winner in Nashville last weekend. “I just put a little fake in there, got around the D-man and chipped it up high.”
 
This was a complete team comeback effort. Claude Giroux (plus-3) had two goals and three points. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare held McDavid to a power-play goal while shadowing him with rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov.
 
“Everyone knows what kind of player he is, what kind of speed he brings to the table,” Bellemare said of McDavid.
 
“I just tried to be as close as possible to him and kind of be annoying and cut off his speed. I didn’t make a big fool out of myself, so that’s a good point.” 
 
Goalie Steve Mason looked tired, but his teammates paid him back for earlier efforts when he stood there alone. Mason now has a personal-best six-game win streak.
 
“A couple nights ago, Mase was the best player and picked up a lotta guys around him,” coach Dave Hakstol said.
 
“Tonight maybe wasn’t his best, but was pretty good. Guys battled hard and they picked up some of the slack. That’s what it takes. Every guy is not going to be at their best every night.”
 
Voracek echoed those thoughts.
 
“That is how you become a great team,” he said. “Mase playing the last six games the way he did, it wasn’t his night tonight, but we got the win for him. That’s how you get into the playoffs and how you have success in the playoffs.”
 
The Flyers fell behind 2-0 early, rallied for three goals in 1:12 in the second, then were stunned by a shorthanded goal from Edmonton’s Andrej Sekera to tie it at 3-3 after two periods.
 
Edmonton scored twice to open the final period before Voracek and Giroux re-tied the game with eight minutes left, setting up the dramatic finish from Raffl at 18:31.
 
“It was an intense game, a lot of emotion. It felt like a playoff game,” Giroux said. “It was the funnest game all year. The fans were unreal. They weren’t wooing. They were cheering.”
 
Edmonton got a brilliant game from Leon Draisaitl, who moved off McDavid’s unit to another line and was dishing out passes like Monopoly money. He had a three-point night, scoring one goal and setting up two more.
 
Back and forth it went. Last goal wins.
 
“The guys bailed me out and that’s a sign hopefully when your goalie is not making the saves you need … it’s huge to see that,” Mason said.
 
“Once it got to 5-4, I tried to lock it down best I could. There are nights when you’re not feeling as sharp as you’d like, but this was a situation where the guys never quit. They earned the two points.”
 
The Flyers’ never-quit attitude is something that should carry them. It has become repetitive this season and they’ll want to remember it during the dog days of the season when their legs get tired.
 
“We’ve shown since the beginning of the season – come back and salvage some points,” Hakstol said. “That’s just guys believing in one another and going out and playing hard.
 
“You don’t want to be in that situation night after night. But tonight, guys stuck with it and great job.”