The Flyers control their own fate in the Eastern Conference wild-card race, and if it’s the Detroit Red Wings that Philadelphia passes to make it into the post-sesaon, they might have one huge save by Steve Mason to thank.
After dominating the first period of the Tuesday tilt, the Flyers had gotten an early lead and that edge was extended to 4-2 on a Shayne Gostisbehere goal late in the second frame. In the third, though, the Red Wings came on strong with wave after wave of attack. And will little more than seven minutes remaining, it looked like Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg was about to pull his club within one with a lot of time left on the clock.
Zetterberg had thrown a beautiful stretch pass to Dylan Larkin, who was able to push a pass ahead to Justin Abdelkader. Lost in the play by the Flyers’ defense was Zetterberg, who broke down the left wing unchecked and was able to take a spinning pass from Abdelkader to go in alone on Mason. Zetterberg faked a quick shot glove side before moving to his backhand, but Mason dove to his left and knocked the shot away:
Mason’s spectacular stop was the biggest of 20 he made in the third frame, and even though he was beaten by Tomas Tatar with 3:45 remaining in the contest, Mason was able to shut the door for the Flyers to take home a 4-3 win and move within one point of the Red Wings for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Better yet, the victory means Philadelphia is only one point back of Detroit with two games in hand.
The victory pushed the Flyers to 7-2-1 over their past 10 games, making them one of the hottest teams in the league right now. Their drive up the Eastern Conference standings and into the wild-card race has been impressive, and Mason has been no small part of that, picking up at least a point for the Flyers in each of his past five starts.
Mason now moves to 17-15-8 on the season with a 2.61 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and four shutouts. If he keeps this up, it’ll be only a matter of time before the Flyers sneak into the East’s final wild-card spot.