NEW YORK, N.Y. – The Philadelphia Flyers might have No. 1 goalie Steve Mason back for Game 2 against the Rangers.
Mason missed Thursday’s 4-1 loss to New York because of an undisclosed upper-body injury. He was hurt last Saturday against Pittsburgh, when he was knocked over and hit the back of his head on the ice. Mason and the Flyers have declined to say whether he has a concussion.
Mason took part in a goalie practice Friday at New York’s Chelsea Piers and said afterward that he is feeling better than he did a few days earlier. He has set his sights on playing Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
“I felt pretty good for being on the ice for the first time in a couple of days. It was a good step,” the 25-year-old Mason said. “I felt great movement-wise. It was a pretty controlled setting and it felt good.
“I’ll know exactly when I am ready to go physically, but it is also a management and doctor’s decision, as well.”
Ray Emery made 32 saves in Mason’s absence Thursday and couldn’t be blamed for the loss. The game was tied 1-1 in the third period but changed when the Rangers scored twice during a double-minor, high-sticking penalty against young forward Jason Akeson.
Emery had little chance to stop either scoring shot. His backup’s strong performance took some of the sting away from Mason.
But he still hopes to get the call Sunday.
“This is the time that you’ve worked all season to get to, and to see the team go out there in a playoff atmosphere at Madison Square Garden where the stakes are so high … it’s something that you don’t want to be sitting out and watching,” Mason said.
“It was difficult, especially since the result. I think everybody expects a much better game on Sunday. I don’t think anybody was happy with the way the team played.”
Mason expects to practice with his teammates Saturday. The rest of the Flyers had Friday off.
Of bigger concern than their goaltending, the Flyers will have to show more discipline in Game 2 and figure out a way to get their top forwards going offensively.
Along with the game-changing penalty by Akeson, Philadelphia was whistled for three other infractions that didn’t lead to New York goals but prevented the Flyers from mounting a serious comeback. They were outshot 13-1 in the final frame.
Philadelphia was outshot 36-15 overall.
“They did a good job of getting those two goals on the power play, and then after the two goals we tried too hard to get some offence going and got out of position,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said of the Rangers, who held him to no shots. “We didn’t get a lot of shots, but we did a lot of good things.
“There is a reason why there are seven games. We need to see what we did wrong, and we will be ready for Game 2.”
So will the Rangers, who now own a nine-game home winning streak over the Flyers.
“We are not going to overthink it here,” Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. “We did a lot of good things, and we are going to continue building on that. It’s one game, and we start over again on Sunday. You have to earn it every night.”
The emergence of Brad Richards also gave the Rangers another shot of energy and optimism. Richards scored the go-ahead goal Thursday and then assisted on insurance tallies by Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin in the third period.
Richards, a potential candidate to have his contract bought out over the summer, is proving his worth after a disappointing end to last year’s post-season when he was benched for the final two games by former coach John Tortorella.
“We controlled play,” Richards said. “In a series, sometimes having the puck and wearing them out can benefit you later in the game. That was our main goal. We would like to get more pucks to the net, and we will try to do that.”