Mason leads Flyers to 3-2 shootout decision over the Predators in Nashville

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Steve Mason is usually one of the best players for the Philadelphia Flyers game in and game out, but Philly’s goaltender was extremely strong tonight in the Flyers’ 3-2 shootout win on the road against the Nashville Predators. Mason denied 34 of the Preds’ 36 shots in regulation and overtime before he made a pair of superb saves in the shootout to grab Philly the additional point. Vincent Lecavalier was the lone skater to convert in the shootout, while Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier beat Marek Mazanec in regulation. Mike Fisher and Colin Wilson had Nashville’s goals in the shootout loss.

After the teams were tied 2-2 after 60 minutes and an additional five minutes of overtime, where Mason robbed Wilson on a breakaway in the final minute, the clubs headed to a shootout. Mason stopped Craig Smith’s backhanded shot with his right leg pad, while Lecavalier started off slow on his attempt and rushed his final few strides before he roofed one past Mazanec’s glove.

The second round saw each team’s shooters fail to score, as Mason flashed his blocker and left leg pad to stop a Matt Hendricks’ bid, while Giroux failed to deposit his Datsyuk-esque move past Mazanec. Matt Cullen provided a Patrick Kane-like approach to beating Mason on Nashville’s final attempt, but missed the net completely to hand Philadelphia the second point on the evening.

It wasn’t a pretty game for the visitors, but they ultimately got the job done. A lot of the credit for the victory belongs to Mason and the team’s penalty kill, who didn’t allow the Predators to pot a single power-play goal despite the fact they were awarded five power plays. With all five of Nashville’s power plays coming in the first 40 minutes, the penalty kill did a tremendous job to send the game into the final period tied at one.

Tonight’s type of win goes to show how far this team is coming in terms of heading in the right direction. Even though they allowed a third-period tally to go down by a goal, the Flyers fought back and ultimately grabbed a pair of points on the road. It’s a great way to open up a rough road trip and ends a stretch of three games in four nights with a 2-1-0 record.

After being outshot early and killing off a pair of penalties, the Orange and Black struck first with a strike from their captain. A pass that was broken up in the slot by a Predators’ defenseman resulted in the puck sitting between the circles, which allowed Giroux to walk in and wind up a slap shot. The forward beat Mazanec’s blocker for his fourth of the season and a 1-0 Philly lead with 3:11 left in the opening stanza.

The lead didn’t last long, as Fisher potted the equalizer exactly one minute later. Patric Hornqvist possessed the puck in the corner to Mason’s right and found Fisher at the dot, who beat the goaltender five-hole. Mason seemed to be screened by Braydon Coburn, as the game became 1-1 with just over two minutes left in the first period.

After a second period that didn’t see any scoring, the Preds grabbed their first lead of the game in the third period thanks to Mason’s only flub of the night. Just over five minutes into the final stanza, Wilson carried the puck through the circle to Mason’s left and attempted to throw a pass across the slot, but had his bid slip off of his stick and result in a shot on net that slid between Mason’s legs to make it 2-1 Nashville with 14:55 left in the tilt.

With less than seven minutes left in regulation, Couturier provided the game-tying goal off a feed from an unlikely source.

As the Flyers cycled in the Preds’ zone with time winding down in the contest, Steve Downie carried the puck along the side boards to Mazanec’s right before he left the puck for Andrej Meszaros, who was pinching from the point. Meszaros carried the disc around the boards and fended off a check by spinning counterclockwise behind the goal line and dishing it across the slot to Couturier, who beat Mazanec’s blocker to tie the game at two with 6:54 left.

The Orange and Black hope to extend their winning streak to three games with their second game of a six-game road trip, as they visit the Minnesota Wild on Monday night.

Notes: The Flyers won a game past regulation for the first time since their 5-4 overtime decision against the Washington Capitals on March 31st. It was the team’s first shootout win since March 15th, when they beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1…Mason improved to 6-7-4 against the Predators in his career…By not allowing a goal on any of Nashville’s three shootout attempts tonight, Mason has stopped six of the eight shootout attempts he’s faced this year…With a goal tonight, Couturier scored goals in consecutive games for the first time since his five-game goal streak in January of 2012…The Flyers’ minus-12 shot differential tonight was their worst shot differential in a win this year…Tonight was Cullen’s 1,100th NHL game. He was minus-1 with five shots on net and one hit in 16:21 TOI…Fisher’s goal in the first period ended a streak of 95:47 for Nashville without a goal…The Flyers improved to 2-0-1 against the Central Division and to 3-3-1 against the Western Conference…The Flyers improved to 1-1-0 this year in the shootout…Philly improved to 12-12-2 overall. They were 11-14-1 after 26 games last year.