Mason solid, but can't match Varlamov in loss

uspresswire-flyers-steve-mason.jpg

Mason solid, but can't match Varlamov in loss

DENVER -- It’s not very often that Flyers goalie Steve Mason could come out of a game knowing the guy at the other end stole two points for his club.

But that’s exactly the feeling you had Thursday night at Pepsi Center watching Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov stone the Flyers at every chance with 29 saves.

“Varlamov moves extremely well,” Mason said after a 2-1 loss, the first for the Flyers on this five-game western road trip (see game recap).

“Tonight I thought he was very sharp. He made some big saves. He did what he needed to do to get the two points.”

It was an especially tough loss for Mason, who faced 31 shots, many of them coming in flurries in the second and third periods. He deserved a better fate.

The game-winner from Ryan O’Reilly came at 9:17 of the second period when the shot appeared to hit Mason on the shoulder. Not so.

“It hit me on the right pad, the top of the pad bent down and the puck went up and over [my shoulder],” Mason explained. “A pretty crappy break.”

Mason was simply under siege in the third period, yet he kept the Flyers in the game much like he did earlier in the trip at Vancouver.

“I expected that,” Mason said. “I told myself going into the third to keep it at two [goals] and give the boys a chance. After that, we had a couple chances but Varlamov made a couple saves. The puck bounced the wrong way for us.”

Flyers-Panthers 5 things: Eyeing longest win streak since Ilya Bryzgalov was in net

Flyers-Panthers 5 things: Eyeing longest win streak since Ilya Bryzgalov was in net

Flyers (14-10-3) vs. Panthers (12-11-3)
7 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com, Pregame Live at 6:30

The Flyers, on the NHL’s longest current win streak, will try to extend it to six games when they host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Let’s get you set for the matchup with five things to know:

1. Push it to the limit
The Flyers beat the Predators, 4-2, on Sunday to give them their most consecutive wins since March 15-22, 2014, when they also won five in a row.

A victory on Tuesday would mark the team’s longest win streak since Dec. 2-15, 2011, when it won seven straight and Ilya Bryzgalov was in net — yeah, that long ago.

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol has been pleased with the consistent effort by his club after it collapsed Nov. 11 in a 6-3 loss to the Maple Leafs.

“You go back to that poor performance up in Toronto, which was about a dozen games ago,” Hakstol said Monday. “Since that point in time, I think we’ve really taken pride in the consistency of our play and worrying about what we do on a day-to-day basis. It’s real important that we continue to do that.”

2. Leier hops right in
With Matt Read out approximately a month because of an oblique muscle pull, winger Taylor Leier has been recalled from AHL affiliate and will join Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Dale Weise on the Flyers’ third line Tuesday.

Leier, a 2012 fourth-round pick of the Flyers, gets his chance after proving himself with the Phantoms in 22 games, putting up 20 points on six goals and 14 assists.

The Flyers decided it was Leier over Scott Laughton, who has been sent back down to Lehigh Valley. Leier's earned his second call-up of the season with the Flyers. The first was just for one game on Oct. 25 in which he was a healthy scratch. Last season, the 22-year-old made his NHL debut, going scoreless in six games.

3. Mason on a roll
Speaking of consistency, goalie Steve Mason finally finding a rhythm is a big reason why the Flyers are stringing together wins.

In his last four games, the 28-year-old is 4-0-0 with a 1.71 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. He was honored for his play by being named the NHL’s first Star of the Week.

“Right now, there’s a comfort level with the guys in front of me,” Mason said Monday. “Winning five in a row is nice and we’d like to keep making ground in the standings.”

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: Ever since Michael Del Zotto returned to the lineup from his three-game benching, the orange and black have won five straight. Now there’s no direct correlation, but Del Zotto is providing a stable presence defensively and chipping in offensively with four points (two goals, two assists) over the five-game run.

Panthers: Center Aleksander Barkov leads Florida in assists with 12 and has eight points (two goals, six assists) over his last nine games for a plus-5 rating.

5. This and that
• Mason is 8-3-2 with a 1.95 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in 13 career games against the Panthers.

• Florida goalie Roberto Luongo, who has a 2.15 goals-against average this season, is 9-10-3 with a 2.83 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in 23 games lifetime against the Flyers.

• The Panthers are 1-1-2 since general manager Tom Rowe took over head-coaching duties for the fired Gerard Gallant.

• The status of Radko Gudas (sick) for tonight’s game is uncertain. He’s missed the last two contests.

• Florida defenseman Keith Yandle’s ironman streak of 577 games will come to an end Tuesday as the 30-year-old is expected to miss some time with a lower-body injury.

• It’s unknown if Panthers leading goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault (lower-body injury) will play Tuesday. 

Flyers Skate Update: Taylor Leier gets another chance with Read out

Flyers Skate Update: Taylor Leier gets another chance with Read out

Things can move fast in the hockey world. And not just on the ice.

Taylor Leier will be the first person to tell you that.

Just about 24 hours ago, he was skating with the Phantoms in Lehigh Valley. Tuesday night, he’ll be suiting up for the Flyers when they go for their sixth straight win as they host the Florida Panthers at the Wells Fargo Center.

“I’m really not taking anything for granted here,” Leier said on Tuesday morning while sporting three stitches and a shiner under his left eye, all after effects of friendly fire after Phantoms teammate Corbin Knight caught him with a high stick Saturday night against Hershey.

"I’m just taking it day-by-day and controlling the things I can control and taking it shift by shift in a game scenario. I’m just looking forward to getting things going."

Leier was recalled Monday after the Flyers announced Matt Read will miss four weeks with what sources tell CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio is an oblique injury.

This is Leier’s second call-up to the big club this season. He was called up in October for a game, but was a healthy scratch.

But that won’t be the case Tuesday as Leier will take Read’s place on the third line with Pierre-Edouard Bellmare and Dale Weise.

There is a familiarity between Leier and Bellemare as the two played together briefly when Leier was with the Flyers for six games in November 2015.

Leier has killed penalties for the Phantoms this season and he will also take Read’s spot on the penalty kill Tuesday, according to Dave Hakstol, who likes the style of game Leier brings to the ice.

“Taylor really has just continued doing, in the first couple months in Lehigh Valley, exactly what he did for us here in training camp," Hakstol said Tuesday morning. “Just playing a real sound, solid role as a two-way winger. He’s obviously scoring at a good pace, he’s nearly a point a game there, which is outstanding."

Leier is second on the Phantoms this season in scoring with six goals and 14 assists. He did not record a point in his six games with the Flyers last season.

Lineup
Expect the lineup to stay the same Tuesday as the Flyers have sent out throughout most of the five-game win streak.

That includes the absence of Radko Gudas, who returned to morning skate on Tuesday after missing the last two games with an illness. He skated on the fourth defensive pairing with Nick Schultz at skate, so he’s expected to remain out vs. the Panthers.

Steve Mason, the NHL’s first star of the week, will start his fifth straight game between the pipes.