After an exciting shootout win against former goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and the Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton on Saturday night, the Philadelphia Flyers headed for Canada's southwestern corner to play the Vancouver Canucks Monday night. And for the second straight game of this western road trip, the Flyers prevailed in the shootout, beating the Canucks 4-3. This game was not short of excitement either, as the Flyers were down 3-2 in the final minute until Brayden Schenn tied the game up against backup Vancouver netminder Eddie Lack to force the shootout. Vinny Lecavalier was the hero in the shootout, scoring the only goal to give the Flyers another big two points and help them climb the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference standings. Steve Mason also had a very good game to keep the Flyers within striking distance the entire night.
In the first period, the Flyers kicked off the scoring, as Mark Streit picked up his fourth of the year on a rebound that he backhanded past Lack to give the Flyers the early 1-0 lead, which would last into the intermission. In the second period, the Canucks came back and did some damage of their own, as former Flyer Tom Sestito picked up his third of the year, wristing it past Steve Mason for the tie. The Canucks showed relentless offensive pursuit in the second period, which wouldn't pay off until the end of the frame. Jannik Hansen picked up a great pass set up by the Sedin twins and floated it past Mason to make it 2-1. However, the captain Claude Giroux picked up a huge goal with just over a minute to go in the period to keep the Canucks from running away with the momentum.
Tied 2-2 for much of the third period, the Flyers and Canucks battled, with the Canucks controlling much of the offensive zone play. The Flyers defense held up just enough through the first 17 minutes of play to keep Vancouver off the board, but it seemed inevitable in the end that Vancouver would score. With less than three minutes to play, Daniel Sedin picked up his second point of the night by beating Mason with a snap shot and put the Canucks up 3-2 with mere minutes remaining in the game. Things looked pretty hopeless for the Flyers at this point, but all was far from said and done.
With just under 50 seconds to play, and with the extra attacker on for Mason, the Flyers won a faceoff to the right of Eddie Lack. Matt Read won the draw and quickly got the puck to Scott Hartnell, who found Brayden Schenn standing in front of a wide-open net on the other side of Lack for the goal. The play happened very quickly off the draw, and seemed to catch Lack and the Vancouver defense off-guard. Luckily for the Flyers, this would force overtime, where nothing was settled. Steve Mason did have to make a major save on Daniel Sedin in the closing seconds of the extra five minutes, which sent it to a shootout.
In the shootout, Mason was forced to make some high-pressure saves – and he did. He flashed leather on Mike Santorelli's glove-side attempt. This brought up Vinny Lecavalier who made a spectacular forehand-to-backhand-to-forehand deke that fooled Lack and got the Flyers on the board. Mason would stop two more shooters, including Daniel Sedin, to seal the win for the Canucks in a spectacular effort.
While the Flyers offense scored some timely goals and Lecavalier came through the shootout, a large amount of credit for Monday night's win belongs to Steve Mason. The Vancouver attack was furious all night, and Mason bent, but didn't break. In fact, he stopped 41 of 44 Vancouver shots, not including all three shootout attempts, and truly kept the Flyers in this game. His play has been rather shaky of lately, but Monday night showed Mason at the high level of play the Flyers have benefited from for much of this season.
It's a quick turnaround, as the Flyers play the Calgary Flames in Calgary tonight on this last night of 2013. Expect Ray Emery to start and give Mason a night off. And expect the Flyers to be hungry for more points, as they've played to a 6-2-2 clip in their last ten games. They are back in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, good enough for third in the Metropolitan Division at 19-16-4.
Vancouver: 4:24 – Tom Sestito (3), Assisted by Dan Hamhuis (8) and Zac Dalpe (2)
Vancouver: 16:51 – Jannick Hansen (8), Assisted by Daniel Sedin (22) and Henrik Sedin (26)
Vancouver: 17:12 – Daniel Sedin (13), Assisted by Dan Hamhuis (9)
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