Steve Mason is generally not fan of shootouts. And he’s certainly not a fan of being on the losing end of them, as he was on Thursday night.
Mason took responsibility for the Flyers' 4-3 loss to the Nashville Predators –- whether he deserved to or not.
“The guys gave me two opportunities to win the game, and I couldn’t do it,” he said. “So I let them down tonight.”
Predictably, though, his teammates didn’t see it that way.
“I don’t think it’s his fault,” Andrej Meszaros said. “He was great, we just didn’t play well enough to win. We didn’t play really well, and we had to come back again, and this time it didn’t work. You can’t play like that every time. You want to play with the lead, and the last few games, it’s not happening. It’s going to be tough during games like that.”
Mason stopped four of the shooters he faced, but allowed three goals. Only Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier were able to beat Predators goalie Carter Hutton.
“I don’t think he can worry about that,” Wayne Simmonds said. “He’s been saving our butts all year. It has nothing to do with him. We should have played a more solid 60 minutes in front of him.”
And the coach? Does he believe any blame belongs on Mason’s shoulders?
“No,” Craig Berube said. “It’s a team effort.”
Simmonds’ strong night
Simmonds put in yet another strong performance against the Predators, registering a goal and two assists. It was his second consecutive multi-point game and seventh of the season.
“He does a great job around the net, Simmer,” Berube said. “And he ended up getting that big goal, got us a point. He’s been very consistent for a while now, the whole line has.”
Simmonds now has 20 points (11 goals, nine assists) in his last 15 games. He credits his linemates for the recent success.
“I would say I feel good, but it has to go to the team and my linemates,” he said. “Me and Hartsy [Scott Hartnell] and [Brayden] Schenn have been playing together for probably the last month and we’ve been playing well. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to those guys.”
The save of the season
Michael Raffl was charging in on the Predators’ net with the puck in his position. Hutton was caught out of position -- and out of the net entirely -- thanks to a strange bounce on a wraparound behind the goal.
But somehow, Raffl didn’t score. Hutton lunged across the net to make the stop.
“I would rather call it a miss,” Raffl said. “I had the open net. The puck was bouncing right on my blade. He [David Legwand] just got a stick on me a little bit. It changed direction. I wasn’t aiming there. You got to give him credit. It was a desperate save. It was a nice save, I guess.”
Meszaros’ scoring touch
Meszaros didn’t have his strongest defensive performance of the season Thursday, but he has recaptured his offensive prowess lately.
The Flyers’ defenseman registered a goal and an assist against the Predators. He has seven points in his last five games.
“He’s confident with the puck,” Berube said. “He’s doing good things at the blue line with it, jumping up in the play like he did on that goal. He’s got confidence.”
The game was the Flyers’ seventh shootout of the season. They’re now 3-4 in shootouts in 2013-14. … Thursday’s loss was the Flyers’ first loss to the Predators at the Wells Fargo Center since 2006. … Claude Giroux was 73 percent (16 for 22) on faceoffs. … The Flyers have scored a power-play goal in four consecutive games and six of their last seven.
MONTREAL — Wayne Simmonds didn’t feel he did anything wrong. Or that he even touched Andrei Markov.
Thing is, however, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety may have a different view of it come Tuesday morning.
Early during first-period play Monday night, the Flyers' winger came out of the penalty box after serving a minor for holding and cross-checked Markov from behind.
The Canadiens' defenseman went face-first into the boards and fell to the ice, where he appeared to try and sell a penalty. Nothing came of it, but the hit will likely be reviewed anyway.
“I barely touched him,” Simmonds. “When you got a bunch of guys diving all over the place, what are you going to do? Stand on your feet.”
There were a number of tough hits from both sides in the Flyers' 3-1 loss to the Canadiens (see game recap). It was evenly played and the Flyers deserved a point.
“We played a solid game,” Simmonds said. “Obviously we lost and it’s not what we wanted, but we have four more games this week.
“We go home and we've got to be focused on the positive things that we did and carry it over the rest of the week.”
Radko Gudas has yet to play a real game this season.
The Flyers' bruising defenseman has been serving a six-game suspension for a careless hit in Boston that closed out exhibition play earlier this month.
Tuesday night, the Flyers will play the back end of a back-to-back against Buffalo at the Wells Fargo Center and Gudas likely will return to the lineup now that his suspension has ended.
“It seems like forever,” Gudas said. “I could use more games behind me. I think I’m ready with my conditioning and skill level, so I can’t wait to get back in there.”
The decision as to who comes out will be difficult. A good guess right now would be Nick Schultz.
“We've got the information at this point,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “It will be a tough decision, no question, if we are healthy.”
At some point — Nov. 5 — Michael Del Zotto will be eligible to come off LTIR. That means another veteran blueliner would become available and an even bigger problem will arise because Del Zotto carries a $3.875 million cap hit.
Barring injury or trade, when Del Zotto returns, the Flyers will have to move two players off their roster entirely just to be cap compliant.
For now, following Monday’s loss, Hakstol has to decide whether to stick with his current defense or put Gudas back in. Given the Flyers have missed Gudas’ physical presence — teams have taken liberties on smallish rookie Travis Konecny — it makes sense to reinsert Gudas.
“Obviously, teams are going to take advantage of smaller guys,” Gudas said. “I would love to be out there if anything happened. All the guys here are responsible and I think they did a pretty good job defending that. It’s not happening a lot.”
No, but it’s happened enough that the Flyers should take note of it.
Hakstol said his decision does not have to come until Tuesday.
“That’s not to say we haven’t looked at things and thought about the [issue], but that decision comes after tonight,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gudas finally has come to the conclusion that the NHL is watching his every hit.
“They’re looking at me since Day 1 I got here,” he said. “The guys made up their minds. I have to make sure I don’t give them an opportunity to call again.”
Maybe he should change his ringtone to say, “Player Safety calling.”
Simmonds and Matt Read saw their four-game goal-scoring streaks come to an end. ... The Flyers were credited with 39 hits, the most they’ve had since 41 in a home game against Montreal on Jan. 5, 2016. Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and Schultz were credited with five apiece. ... Ice-time leaders: Ivan Provorov (21:31), Shayne Gostisbehere (21:27) and Brandon Manning (20:36). … Boyd Gordon was 10 for 12 (83 percent) on faceoffs. ... Jakub Voracek had five shots, giving him 21 overall, which ties him for 10th in the league. His goal gave him eight points and ties him with five other players for fourth in the NHL.
MONTREAL — It was at least a point in the taking.
A valuable point against the best team in the Eastern Conference, being preserved for the Flyers by goalie Steve Mason.
Despite an outstanding road effort and 30 saves from Mason, it wasn't enough Monday night at Bell Centre as Les Canadiens defeated the Flyers, 3-1 (see Instant Replay).
“We were right there, same as other games this year in the third period,” Jakub Voracek said. “We got scored on from the power play. It happens.”
Brendan Gallagher’s tip at 13:08 on the power play was the difference. Thing is, Boyd Gordon, who won 10 of 12 draws, cleanly directed the draw but it went right to Shea Weber — a faceoff loss — with Alexander Radulov unleashing a wicked shot.
“Sometimes you go against a righty and get jammed and it was more towards their winger,” Gordon said. “I bumped it back. A mix-up up top. Too bad because the PK was good.”
The Flyers have nothing to be ashamed of after Monday's effort. They deserved a better fate. If they continue to play like this, the victories will come.
“I thought Mase played really well but I thought our team played really well,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “We didn’t have to steal anything. Our team played a real solid road game and it always starts with your goaltender.”
Mason had four point-blank shots he denied in this game.
“We definitely wanted to come in here and get two points and it’s disappointing with the loss,” Mason said. “Nice thing is, we can get right back at it tomorrow [against Buffalo].
“It was a close game overall and both teams had chances to go ahead. They capitalized on a couple bounces there and that’s the ebbs and flows of the game. They found a way to win and we didn’t.”
On the game-winner, Mason was expecting the one-timer from Weber but instead the former defenseman, who came over during the summer in a controversial trade for P.K. Subban, gave it off to Radulov.
“He shot it and I had a good line on it,” Mason said. “Gallagher was able to get his stick on it there and it changed directions on me.”
Curiously, Montreal had four power plays in this game to the Flyers' one despite the evenness of play across the board with the exception of the slot, where Montreal had better chances.
Sean Couturier’s tripping call on Torrey Mitchell was inadvertent, setting up the crucial late power play.
“It was a pretty well-played third period,” Hakstol said. “Tough penalty we ended up getting called on.
“Not much Coots could do. He was dragging his stick to break up the play. It’s a penalty when the stick goes between the legs.”
The Flyers owned much of the second period. While Mason handled a number of rushes right into the crease, he was felled by a point drive from Weber that stanza.
Weber’s shot was so hard it broke Brayden Schenn’s stick. Yet, the simple truth was Mason was screened out completely by Andrew MacDonald.
Eleven of the Flyers' 13 shots on Carey Price came via five-on-five play that period, most of it contained in the period’s latter third when they were rewarded.
Voracek had a ferocious shift with an open shot in the slot that Price denied, but he kept the puck alive and earned his third goal with a tip of Claude Giroux’s drive from the high slot to make it 1-1.
Voracek has three goals in six games during this first month. He didn’t get his third goal last season until Dec. 19 at Columbus — 33 games.
“Second period is usually the most offensive one,” Voracek said. “It’s too bad we only generated one goal.
“As a game on the road in a tough building against a team that [has lost once], we can be happy the way we played.”