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.

Larry Bowa on Jim Bunning: His words 'resonated throughout my career'

Larry Bowa on Jim Bunning: His words 'resonated throughout my career'

Beyond the center field wall at Citizens Bank Park, retired Phillies uniform No. 14 was draped in black cloth on Saturday afternoon.
 
Jim Bunning, who wore that number during six seasons with the club, died late Friday night at his home in Kentucky. The Hall of Fame pitcher, who went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, was 85.
 
Bunning was a workhorse right-hander who pitched with smarts and competitiveness during his 17 seasons in the majors. He also pitched with the Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers. He averaged 35 starts and won 89 games during his six seasons with the Phillies. He also authored one of the most iconic moments in club history when he pitched the franchise's first perfect game on a searing hot Father's Day in 1964 against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.
 
Talking about a perfect game as it is unfolding is considered baseball taboo. To mention it is to risk jinxing it. But Bunning broke tradition and in the late innings of that game talked openly with teammates in the dugout about the possibility of finishing off the feat.
 
"Jim Bunning was way too practical of a man to worry about a jinx," former teammate Rick Wise once said. Wise pitched the second game of that Father's Day doubleheader. It started 20 minutes after Bunning completed his perfecto and Wise had trouble finding a ball and a catcher to warm him up because everyone was busy celebrating the perfect game.
 
Bunning went 224-184 with a 3.27 ERA in 591 career games. He led the American League with 20 wins in 1957. He led the league in innings twice and strikeouts three times. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1996 and went into Cooperstown as a Phillie.
 
Bunning had two tours with the Phillies, 1964-67 and 1970-71, and was a straight-laced competitor who expected effort and excellence from his teammates. During his second time through Philadelphia, as he was nearing the end of his career, he was a teammate of a young shortstop named Larry Bowa.
 
"I remember him coming up to me and saying, ‘Don’t ever, ever lose your energy. I don’t want to turn around and see your head dropping because you’re 0 for 3,’" Bowa recalled Saturday. "He said, ‘I don’t ever want to see that.’ He said, ‘You’ve got to be accountable. You’ve got to play with energy. You’ve got to play every inning of every game.
 
"I made an error one day and he turned around — I didn’t even want to make eye contact with him — he turned around and he was rubbing the ball and looked at me and I went, 'Yeah, I know I should have caught it.' He was just that intense."
 
Bunning had a mean streak on the mound. He led the league in hit batsman four times.
 
Bowa recalled the time Ron Hunt — a notorious plunkee — did not get out of the way of a Bunning breaking ball. As Hunt ran to first base, Bunning admonished him.
 
"He went over and said, 'Ron, if you want to get hit, I’ll hit you next time and it won’t be a breaking ball.' That’s what kind of competitor he was."
 
Bunning suffered a stroke last year.
 
"I knew he had been sick," Bowa said. "Tremendous, tremendous person who taught me a lot about the game in a short time.
 
"He always gave me good advice. He talked about self-evaluation with me all the time. He said you’ve got to be accountable in this game, no one gives you anything in this game. I never had a pitcher mentor me like he did. In spring training, he told me, ‘Keep your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open.’ It was that simple. I said, ‘Yes, sir.’
 
"When a guy like that takes the time with someone who is just starting, it’s, I mean, it resonated throughout my career."

MLB Notes: Tigers place 2B Ian Kinsler on 10-day disabled list

MLB Notes: Tigers place 2B Ian Kinsler on 10-day disabled list

CHICAGO -- The Detroit Tigers placed Ian Kinsler on the 10-day disabled list because of a strained left hamstring ahead of their doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday.

Outfielder JaCoby Jones was recalled from Triple A Toledo to fill the roster spot. He was scheduled to start the first game of the twin bill in center field.

Kinsler sat out five games because of the same injury this month. He has a .239 batting average, four home runs and 11 RBIs in 41 games this season.

Also, the Tigers acquired the contract of pitcher Arcenio Leon and Chad Bell was optioned to Toledo. Bell pitched 2 1/3 innings on Friday. Pitcher William Cuevas was designated for assignment.

Leon spent the 2016 season in the Mexican League before signing as minor league free agent last winter. He'd be making his major league debut.

Indians: Ace starter Corey Kluber expected to rejoin rotation next week
CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber, sidelined most of the month with a strained lower back, is expected to rejoin the Cleveland Indians rotation on Thursday against Oakland.

Cleveland's ace right-hander hasn't pitched since May 2 when he left his start against Detroit after three innings. He threw five scoreless innings for Double-A Akron on a minor league rehab assignment Friday.

Kluber is 3-2 with a 5.06 ERA in six starts. He pitched 249 1/3 innings last season, including 34 1/3 in the playoffs. Kluber also pitched on three days rest three times during the postseason, two coming against the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.

Kluber was 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA and two shutouts in the regular season and went 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA in six playoff starts. He won the AL Cy Young Award in 2014 and was third in the voting last season.

Indians manager Terry Francona didn't say whose spot Kluber will take in the rotation.

Padres: OF Manuel Margot placed on 10-day DL with calf strain
WASHINGTON -- The San Diego Padres placed Manuel Margot on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right calf before Saturday's game against the Washington Nationals.

The centerfielder left Wednesday's game with calf soreness. He was in a walking boot ahead of Friday's series opener.

Second on the team in at-bats, the 22-year-old Margot is batting .259 with four home runs and 13 RBIs.

"He's just sore right now," Padres manager Andy Green said. "He'll take off four-to-five days and keep the workload really minimum. After that, see how he progresses."

Outfielder Franchy Cordero was called up from Triple-A El Paso for his major league debut. He is expected to start Sunday and receive much of the playing time in center field.