Instant Replay: Flyers 5, Capitals 2

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Instant Replay: Flyers 5, Capitals 2

BOX SCORE

A five-minute major and ensuing power play was a game changer for the Flyers on Tuesday night in the back end of their home-and-home engagement against the Washington Capitals.

Two power-play goals saw them turn a 2-2 tie into a two-goal lead during the Flyers' 5-2 victory at Wells Fargo Center that drew Craig Berube’s team to within one point of a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.

Matt Read’s team-high 10th goal at 11:54 of the second period drew the Flyers even at 2-2.

That set up the game’s turning point.

The Flyers were awarded a five-minute power play after Tom Wilson’s charging call against Brayden Schenn (see 10 observations).

The Flyers scored twice on that lengthy man-advantage with Mark Streit drilling one from the point and then Jakub Voracek potting his second goal of the night for a 4-2 lead.

Prior to all that, the Flyers were sloppy starting that period and paid for it as the Caps scored twice.

First, goalie Steve Mason let a rebound elude his glove hand on the ice for an easy 28th goal by Alex Ovechkin during a power play.

Then, minutes later, after Voracek had made it a 1-1 game, the Flyers' top line came down ice with all eyes on Troy Brouwer going into the corner for a puck.

Three different Flyers failed to realize that Eric Fehr was the trail man while he banged home a bad goal shortside on Mason for a 2-1 Caps lead.

Things would change soon after.

Injuries
Schenn likely was concussed after being slammed head first into the back boards by Wilson, who accelerated into his second-period hit as Schenn turned toward the boards. Schenn struggled to his feet, then collapsed and had to be assisted off the ice. Wilson drew a five-minute major for the hit (see video).

Watchful eye
Claude Giroux drew a minor penalty when Fehr drilled him in the chin for a roughing call in the first period. The hit also pinned Giroux’s right shoulder on the boards, too. The puck was long gone when Giroux got hit. Hence the penalty. Needless to say, any high hit is something to watch for the remainder of the week.

Breakaways
Scott Hartnell had one early and was denied by Caps goalie Braden Holtby. Hartnell felt he was interfered with from behind.

Special teams
Streit drilled one off the right post during the Flyers' only power play in the first period while Holtby got his stick on Giroux’s open shot in the right slot. Then the Flyers scored twice off that five-minute major. They were 2 for 5 in the game. The Caps were 1 for 2.

Stone cold
Mason had several outstanding saves from five or six feet in the slot in the opening period on Nick Backstrom and Marcus Johansson, plus a point-shot save on Mike Green two seconds before Backstrom’s rebound.

Mason miscue
Mason mishandled a shot from Backstrom during the Caps’ carryover power play in the second period and Ovechkin had an easy goal in the paint. Mason’s mishandle of a clearing pass led to Ovie’s game-tying goal Sunday that sent the game into overtime.

Big glove save
By Mason on John Carlson late in the game.

Watching Ovie
Ovechkin had just two shots through two periods. Sean Couturier’s line matched up against him most of the game. Ovie finished with one goal for his lone point of the game.

First point
Chris VandeVelde picked up his first point as a Flyer (fourth overall in NHL) on Streit’s power-play goal with an assist.

Scouts
Two scouts from the Montreal Canadiens were on hand for this game, including assistant general manager Rich Dudley. One scout was from Winnipeg.

Scratches
Nothing new here. Defensemen Hal Gill and Andrej Meszaros; forward Jay Rosehill. Forward Vinny Lecavalier (back injury) was the only injured scratch.

Fights
Adam Hall decisioned Aaron Volpatti, who is a pretty good fighter in the second period. Nick Grossmann and Wilson fought to a draw when Grossmann went after the Caps’ winger for his hit on Schenn.

Steve Mason named NHL's 1st star after strong week

Steve Mason named NHL's 1st star after strong week

There’s a number of reasons why the Flyers have a five-game winning streak, why they’re playing better hockey, and why they own the No. 1 wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
 
Perhaps the biggest reason of all is goaltender Steve Mason, who has won four of those games, compiling a 1.71 goals against average and .945 save percentage during that span.
 
Mason was named the NHL’s first “Star of the Week” on Monday. St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko and San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones were second and third stars.
 
“The team is on a roll right now and I’m a benefactor of that,” said Mason, who needs a win Tuesday against Florida to tie his career-high streak of five set Dec. 17-30 in 2013, during his first, full season as a Flyer.
 
“There’s strong play in front of me. The team is playing a little tighter in our defensive zone of late and making the goaltender reads that much more simple. 
 
“Right now, there’s a comfort level with the guys in front of me … Winning five in a row is nice and we’d like to keep making ground in the standings.”
 
His four victories last week were tops in the NHL. Among them, he had a season-high 45 saves in a 3-2 shootout win against Boston. 
 
Like many goalies, Mason prefers action. Games such as the 3-2 overtime win at Ottawa last week when the Senators only fired 21 shots, bother him.
 
“Those games, when you are not getting a lot of shots, the ones you do get will be a high-grade scoring chance,” he said. “And when you’re sitting around a few minutes not seeing the puck and all of a sudden see a chance like that …
 
“It’s more difficult to play [those games] than the games where there is a constant workload and you’re not thinking, but just playing. For myself personally, those are the games I enjoy the most. When I see a lot of pucks.”
 
The Flyers have seen dramatic improvement over the past month in their overall defensive play, from both their defensemen in down-low coverage in the slow and with their forwards on the backcheck.
 
Mason said the team has gone through “growing pains” with trying to integrate some younger bodies to the lineup this season – Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, and Nick Cousins  come to mind.
 
“You have to familiar with everybody,” he said. “Have a constant lineup where guys go out  shift after shift and night after night, you know what to expect from one another. When you have that kind of confidence in guys, it makes playing easier.” 
 
Mason’s 4-2 victory at Nashville on Sunday saw him go over .500 for the first time this season with a 9-8-3 record. 
 
His GAA is coming down at 2.76 while his save percentage has risen to .904.
 
“I was aware of it obviously, just because of the way the year started,” he said. “It’s taken a lot of work to get it above the .900 level.
 
“We’re obviously going to continue to work at getting it even better. The way the team’s playing right now and the way everybody’s clicking, we’re going at a good pace right now.”

Future Flyers Report: Welcome to the Carter Hart Show

Future Flyers Report: Welcome to the Carter Hart Show

Before this week begins, it's time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

In this edition, we continue our weekly check-in on a dominant goalie prospect and a pair of AHL players fighting for the next call-up and much more. Let’s dig in.

Carter Hart, G, 6-1/181, Everett (WHL)
It appears the Flyers have struck gold with a legitimate goalie prospect, one of a few in the system, in Hart. The 18-year-old is dominating the Western Hockey League. Last Monday, Hart was named the WHL Goaltender of the Week for the second consecutive week. More good news for Hart came Tuesday, when he was named to Team Canada’s selection camp roster.

Hart also saw his shutout streak reach an Everett record 193 minutes and 48 seconds. He pitched a 20-save shutout Wednesday in the Silvertips’ 5-0 win over Kootenay. That was his second straight shutout, and his third in his previous four games. He saw his shutout streak snapped at 6:47 in the first period Friday against Medicine Hat, a game in which he stopped 23 of 26 shots in a 4-3 Silvertips’ win.

Oskar Lindblom, LW/RW, 6-1/192, Brynäs IF (SHL)
More points for Lindblom last week, as he now is second in the SHL with 24 points. The winger had a two-assist game in Brynäs IF’s 3-2 defeat to Skelleftea on Thursday, then a goal in Brynäs’ 2-0 win over Växjö. The 20-year-old has developed into force as a kid playing among men. He’s been a mainstay of the Future Flyers Report this year, and it’ll be interesting if he comes overseas for a tryout again with the Phantoms once the SHL season ends.

Jordan Weal, C, 5-10/179, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
There is not much to be disappointed with Weal this season. He came into Flyers’ training camp and nearly wrangled a roster spot, and then responded by going down to the Phantoms and torching the AHL. His wrath continued again last week, and he’s currently on a four-game point streak. Weal has seven points in his last four games, and nine points in his last six games. Overall, Weal leads the Phantoms with 15 assists and 24 points — which has him tied for second in the AHL. He’s third on the team with nine goals. Weal’s production offers general manager Ron Hextall some scoring depth in the American League, which should allow some comfort if an injury falls to one of the Flyers’ skilled forwards. Weal would be the first call-up from Lehigh Valley.

Taylor Leier, LW, 5-10/176, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
Leier has heated up over the past few weeks, and last week he turned in another impressive string of games for Lehigh Valley. Leier displayed unselfishness last Tuesday in the Phantoms’ 4-1 win over Toronto, dishing a pass to Colin McDonald for an empty-net goal instead of going for the goal himself. He picked up another apple on a McDonald goal Saturday in the Phantoms’ 4-3 overtime win over Hershey. To cap off the week, Leier recorded a goal and an assist for Lehigh Valley in its 3-2 win over Bridgeport. He’s now two points shy of a point-per-game pace with 20 in 22 games, and sits behind Weal for the team lead. Could be an injury call-up at some point this season.

Quick hits
• Ohio State’s Tanner Laczynski turned in a four-point night for the Buckeyes Saturday vs. Minnesota, scoring one goal and three assists. He now has 22 points in 15 games.

Wade Allison registered his seventh collegiate goal and scored in a shootout Saturday for Western Michigan in a 5-5 tie to St. Cloud State. He has 10 points in 14 games in his freshman campaign.

• Bowling Green’s Mark Friedman picked up another assist Saturday against Lake Superior. Friedman has nine assists and 13 points in 17 games this season.

Merrick Madsen started two more games for Harvard last week. Madsen stopped 44 of 47 shots in two Crimson wins. He’s goaltended every game for Harvard this season.

• Brynäs IF goalie Felix Sandstrom pitched a 22-save shutout against Växjö on Saturday, his first start since Nov. 22.

Sam Morin tallied his second goal of the season last Tuesday in the Phantoms’ 4-1 win over the Toronto Marlies. His D-partner, Travis Sanheim, had an assist last week.

• A good week for Robert Hagg, who picked up his first goal of the season Friday against Hershey and then an assist Sunday against Bridgeport.

Alex Lyon started three of the Phantoms’ four games last week, going 2-0 and allowing seven goals on 78 shots. He let up four in his only loss last week.

• After returning from a concussion two weeks ago, Pascal Laberge missed both of Victoriaville’s games last week with concussion symptoms.

• Rouyn-Noranda’s Philippe Myers had a goal and two assists in two games last week for the Huskies. Myers will join Hart on Team Canada’s selection camp roster.

Connor Bunnaman scored a hat trick in Kitchener’s 5-4 overtime win over Ottawa on Saturday night. He now has 15 goals in 25 games.

• Sarnia’s Anthony Salinitri words had a goal and an assist in two games last week.

Carsen Twarynski picked up a goal and an assist in Calgary’s 7-5 loss to Moose Jaw on Saturday night.