You're not crazy: The Flyers won a second straight game in a shootout

You're not crazy: The Flyers won a second straight game in a shootout

The Philadelphia Flyers have won back-to-back games via shootouts. I repeat, the Philadelphia Flyers have won back-to-back games via shootouts. This is not a drill.

You can stop rubbing your eyes and pinching yourselves, because it’s as true as can be.

The Flyers rallied late to tie thanks to a Brayden Schenn goal with less than a minute left and the goaltender pulled and then snuck past the Vancouver Canucks for a 4-3, shootout win last night – earlier this morning, technically - at Rogers Arena.

It’s the first time the Flyers have won back-to-back games via shootouts since March of 2006 when they topped the Montreal Canadiens and eventual Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes.

The Flyers took a first-period lead when Mark Streit found a Michael Raffl rebound and put it past Canucks’ netminder Eddie Lack. Lack started in place of Roberto Luongo, who missed the game with what he called the #EmeryFlu.

The Flyers gave up two second-period tallies, including one by former Flyers’ tough guy Tom Sestito to fall behind, 2-1. That was before Claude Giroux took a seam pass from Raffl and, with two Canucks’ defenders all over him, somehow muscled the puck through Lack to tie the game with a spectacular goal.

It was an Olympic effort from Giroux. Were you watching, Mr. Yzerman?

The game stayed tied in the third until Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin scored an odd goal to give his team the lead. Sedin threw a long wrist shot on net that Steve Mason batted away. But the puck then hit off Luke Schenn and bounced over Mason and into the net.

Never fear because little brother Brayden came to the rescue and tied the contest with 47 seconds left when he found a loose puck off a faceoff and slid it past Lack. It was Schenn’s first goal in 16 games. Talk about a timely way to end a slump.

Vinny Lecavalier netted the shootout winner as Mason stoned all three Vancouver attempts.

Speaking of Mason, wow, what a performance.

After a bit of a shaky start in Edmonton in the Orange and Black’s previous game, Mason was spectacular against the Canucks as he stopped 41 shots.

They weren’t easy saves either. There were some acrobatic saves that most goalies would have hid no shot at. His first-period save on Vancouver’s Chris Higgins may have been his best save all season. The third-period, pad save he made on David Booth on a two-on-one was phenomenal.

Yes, the Flyers scored three goals in regulation and came back from a deficit to win, but Mason was the real story in the game. He kept the Flyers in the game as they were outshot 44-27 and allowed the Canucks to run circles around them when the Canucks had the puck in the offensive zone.

While most of you will be out drinking – responsibly, of course – and celebrating the new year, the Flyers will be in Calgary to take on the Flames at 9 p.m.

Sixers merchandise sales on the rise along with win total

Sixers merchandise sales on the rise along with win total

Between recent wins and Joel Embiid’s All-Star push, fans are buying their Sixers gear.

According to Fanatics.com, a sports apparel website partnered with the four major sports, the Sixers rank fourth among all NBA teams in total merchandise sales over the past seven days. The Warriors, Cavaliers and Bulls are ahead of them.

Joel Embiid was the fifth-best selling player over that period. His popularity has risen during his enthusiastic All-Star campaign, which included celebrity shoutouts and an outpour of social media activity. Embiid is now up to 553,000 Twitter followers.

The Sixers have ranked in the league’s top 10 of merchandise sales since the beginning of the 2016-17 season. They hold the largest year-over-year increase during that time frame in the NBA this season.

In September, Ben Simmons ranked in the top 10 of NBA players in merchandise sales since draft night.

Sales from the Sixers' and NBA's official online stores are included in these statistics.

Sixers clicking just in time to face surging Raptors on Wednesday

Sixers clicking just in time to face surging Raptors on Wednesday

The Sixers are clicking just in time to face their toughest competition in over a month. The Raptors (28-13) come to Philadelphia as the Sixers have won six of their last eight games by holding one another accountable and taking each outing step-by-step.

“You feel like the group is coming together,” Brett Brown said. “You feel like all the work that we have put in is starting to pay dividends in relation to a solid foundation.”

The Raptors sit second in the Eastern Conference, just one and a half games behind the Cavaliers. The last time they met, the Raptors beat the Sixers 123-114 on Dec. 14 at the Wells Fargo Center.

A lot has changed since then, especially the rotations. Brown started Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor together against the Raptors, an experiment that waned out after six games. The Sixers have found a formula to winning with an established starting lineup and a consistent second unit, with the added experience of Gerald Henderson and Nerlens Noel. They will be tested Wednesday as both Joel Embiid (illness) and T.J. McConnell (wrist) are questionable.

“When you look at this team, it’s a lot of talent but we didn’t play as a team,” Ilyasova said of the start of the season. “Now we come together. I think it’s all about the chemistry, we trust each other.”

The Sixers are looking to carry over the momentum of a 113-104 victory over the Bucks in Milwaukee on Monday. They got a test of All-Star caliber talent against Giannis Antetokounmpo, whom they held to two points in the second half. The Sixers will have their hands full with the backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry (22.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 7.2 assists) and DeMar DeRozan (28.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists).

One key to countering talent like that placing an importance on accountability. The players are not letting each other off the hook for mistakes on the court, regardless of who the opponent is.

“I could see it over the past couple weeks, guys coming out here and being more vocal on both ends of the court,” Noel said. “If one guy messes up, you’ve got to let him know so it won’t be a recurring thing. With that, guys are taking steps in the right direction, both leadership roles because everybody on this team can be a leader in their own way.”

The Raptors come in on a four-game winning streak.