Throughout the season, Philadelphia Flyers netminder Steve Mason has had to split time with Michal Neuvirth. However, with Neuvirth on the shelf, Mason has started in each of the past seven games and hasn’t had more than a one-day break for any of those starts.
And while he alone didn’t win Wednesday’s outing against the Washington Capitals, Mason made an outstanding glove save that took what looked like a sure shootout goal away from Evgeny Kuznetsov and helped make Sam Gagner’s subsequent shootout tally the game-winner for the Flyers.
The glove save was a work of art, made by Mason as he stayed with Kuznetsov while the Capitals’ shifty center waited patiently to try to find room to fire the puck past the Flyers netminder. Instead, Kuznetsov found Mason’s glove:
It can’t be said for certain that if Kuznetsov would have scored, the Flyers wouldn’t have still won the contest, but Mason’s glove save made sure a Philadelphia loss wasn’t coming easily. More than that, though, Mason’s stop helped vault the Flyers into sole possession of the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with a game in hand on the Detroit Red Wings, who Philadelphia is battling for the final playoff berth.
As for Mason, who has been excellent since Neuvirth went down, the expectation was that he would at some point show fatigue. Not because he’s a shaky goaltender, but simply because he’s started seven high-pressure contests in a row without any rest. If Mason has been fatigued, though, the Flyers goaltender definitely isn’t showing those signs.
His second- and third-consecutive starts were made on back-to-back nights, and Mason made 51 saves in a shootout loss. He hasn’t allowed more than two goals against in any of his past six starts, has stopped 176 of the 186 shots over his past six games for a .946 save percentage and there has been only one contest where Mason hasn’t backstopped the Flyers to at least a single point.