VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Early in the season, Steve Mason was the sole reason the Flyers weren’t losing games by four or five goals a night.
That was largely the case again Monday against the Canucks, as Mason kept the Flyers in a game they ought to have lost badly. Mason finished with 41 saves, added three more in the shootout, while Vinny Lecavalier scored the game-winner on the Flyers' first shootout attempt and the Flyers won, 4-3.
It’s only the second time the Flyers have won back-to-back shootouts in team history. The only other time was in March 2006 against Montreal and Carolina.
At the end of the first period, the Flyers trailed in shots, 13-7, despite leading 1-0. After two, they had been outshot 28-16, though they were tied 2-2. They finished the night with 27 shots compared to the Canucks’ 44.
It was the most shots they’ve given up in regulation all season, but Mason kept them in it the entire night.
The Flyers weren’t playing as poorly as they had been in October or early November, but the Canucks simply outplayed them. The Canucks put together strong chances. They exposed the Flyers’ sometimes-unreliable defense, and they shut down the Flyers’ red-hot power play.
But Mason, who’s had an up-and-down past few weeks, looked a lot like the goaltender he was to start the season. He stopped multiple Canucks scoring chances that likely would have beat most any other goaltender.
And thanks to him, they escaped Vancouver with two points they didn’t exactly deserve.
It’s not that the Flyers had a bad first period, but they were fortunate to be up 1-0 on Mark Streit’s goal after 20 minutes. They were outshot in the opening stanza and the Canucks had a few good chances on Mason, who, by the way, looked a lot sharper right at the start of this one than he did a couple days ago in Edmonton.
Which is it?
Just under three minutes into the opening period, Canucks winger Daniel Sedin was called for hooking Streit … but Streit was called too, for an unsportsmanlike penalty -- apparently, he dove on the play. An official shouldn’t be able to call a penalty on a player and accuse the player who was the target of the infraction for exaggerating. Either Sedin hooked Streit or he didn’t. Which was it?
The trouble with Coby
Braydon Coburn’s turnover early in the Flyers’ last game in Edmonton resulted in the goal that put the Oilers up 1-0. Monday night in Vancouver, he was guilty of a couple similar mistakes -- one of which would have been a goal, had Mason not laid out to make a staggering save on Chris Higgins.
Giroux’s new record
After his assist on Streit’s first-period goal, Claude Giroux extended his point streak to nine games -- just like eight and seven were, it’s a new career record for the Flyers’ captain. His second-period goal was pure Giroux -- he sure looks like a player who deserves to play in the Olympics.
Tom Sestito – yes, that Tom Sestito -- scored the Canucks’ second-period goal that tied the game 1-1. The Canucks picked up Sestito, the former Flyers tough guy, after the Flyers waived him last year. He scored just two goals in parts of two seasons with the Flyers (and had just five, total, in his career heading into this year), but already has three this season alone in Vancouver playing on the team’s fourth line.
Michael Raffl, who made public Monday that he had made the Austrian Olympic team (see story), had another strong night. Raffl had his third multi-point night in his last 10 games in Vancouver, and continued to solidify.
The Canucks thought they'd locked it up in regulation when Sedin beat Mason on a rather soft goal. But Brayden Schenn secured the Flyers at least one point in the final minute of the game, beating Canucks goalie Eddie Lack to tie the game at 3.
Lecavalier, who didn’t score on his shootout attempt Saturday, scored the lone shootout goal tonight, beating Lack with a dazzling move.
Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek both saw their point streaks end Monday night. Voracek's ended at nine games, while Simmonds' ended at five.