Bill Meltzer: Flyers Erase Early Deficit, Down Coyotes 4-3 via Shootout


Flyers Erase Early Deficit, Down Coyotes 4-3 via Shootout

It was far from the ideal way to start the early minutes of their first game after the All-Star break, but the Philadelphia Flyers stormed back to overcome a 2-0 deficit and defeat the Arizona Coyotes 4-3 via shootout at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.

Philadelphia found itself trailing by a pair of goals just 5:50 into the first period.

Flyers coach Craig Berube removed starting goaltender Ray Emery after giving up two goals on four shots and inserted Steve Mason into the game.

Coming off a right knee injury suffered on Jan. 10 against Boston and dealing with the remnants of the flu, Mason had not had a regular practice day in weeks. Tuesday’s morning skate was the third day he skated. The goaltender said after the game that he had “tunnel vision on the puck,” rather than reading the play developing around him and did not get fully comfortable until overtime.

Nevertheless, Mason battled valiantly and stopped 22 of 23 shots in regulation and overtime before going 3-for-3 in the shootout. Arizona goaltender Mike Smith stopped 39 of 42 in the hockey game and two of three in the postgame skills competition.

Wayne Simmonds’ mid-first period power play rebound goal trimmed the Flyers deficit to 2-1. Mark Streit and Claude Giroux assisted on the goal. Philadelphia dominated the second period but trailed until R.J. Umberger roofed a shot over Smith to tie the game. Michael Del Zotto gave the Flyers a short-lived 3-2 lead on a line rush goal elevated over Smith from the left circle after a lead pass by Jakub Voracek.

After a scoreless third period and overtime, Simmonds earned the Flyers a bonus point by scoring in the third round of the shootout. The victory was the Flyers’ second shootout win of the season in seven tries and improved their season record to 20-22-7. Arizona fell to 16-25-6.

Arizona got goals from Connor Murphy and Martin Erat prior to the change in goal for the Flyers. Tobias Rieder scored the only goal against Mason, converting a breakaway attempt 23 seconds after Del Zotto had given Philly its only lead of the night during regulation.

This was a low penalty game, with the Flyers taking just one minor penalty and Arizona taking two. Philly went 1-for-2 on the power play, while Arizona was 0-for-1. 1ST PERIOD

The Flyers had the game’s first two shots through the opening three-plus minutes.The Coyotes scored on their first foray to make 1-0.

Connor Murphy, the son of Flyers’ assistant coach Gord Murphy, skated to the top of the right circle and ripped a shot on net. Emery got a piece of it but it bounced over the line before being swept out by R.J. Umberger and a second-effort put-in by Martin Erat that would have counted had the initial one not gone in. Erat and Andrew Campbell got the assists on Murphy’s third goal of the season at 3:33.

Arizona doubled its lead to 2-0 at 5:50. Emery left out a fat rebound on a shot by Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Erat claimed the rebound and put it in the net. Shane Doan got the secondary assist on Erat’s seventh goal of the season.

Emery was pulled at this point, stopping two of four shots. Mason entered the game.

Brandon McMillan was whistled off for holding Chris VandeVelde along the boards in the Flyers defensive zone at 8:11. The Fyers went on the game’s first power play and turned it int to their first goal to cut the gap to 2-1.

Wayne Simmonds followed up his own second-chance rebound of an initial Mark Streit point shot at 9:02

With about eight minutes left in the period, Mason had his toughest save up to that point of the game, making a pad save on Campbell to keep the score at 2-1,

The Coyotes went on their first power play at 14:14. Ryan White went off for interference. Mason made two good saves at the very end.

With 3:08 left in the period, Smith snared a laser beam of a Giroux slapshot from deep center slot. The goalie dropped his stick to the ice in the process.

Shots in the first period were 16-10 Flyers. Faceoffs were 14-13 Arizona. 2ND PERIOD

Ekman-Larsson grabbed Voracek moving behind the Arizona net and took a holding penalty at the 30-second mark. The Flyers first unit applied heavy pressure on the power play but Smith was his team’s best penalty killer on a tough stop on Voracek. Brayden Schenn also had a near-miss opportunity from near the right post.

With 16:49 left in the period, Smith came up with a Vincent Lecavalier deflection in front of a Streit shot from the right point. Shots in the period were 3-0 Flyers at this juncture.

At the six-minute mark, Umberger was not quite able to get to a centering pass in front by Matt Read skating around the net. Had the pass made connections, Umberger would have had a tap-in.

Shortly thereafter, Smith and a defenseman bumped into each other and got trapped behind the Coyotes. However, Wayne Simmonds shot into traffic lost its steam as Ekman-Larsson blocked it and the Flyers were unable to pot a subsequent chance after Smith lost his stick. The goalie held for a a stoppage at 8:44.

Four-plus minutes later, Umberger was denied on a 10-bell save pad by Smith after a carom out from the end boards to the left circle but scored moments later on the same shift to tie the game at 2-2.

From the bottom of the left circle, Umberger received a diagonal pass from Andrew MacDonald and elevated his 9th goal of the season over Smith. MacDonald and Sean Couturier got the assists at 13:55.

With 3:16 left in the period, Mason snagged a David Moss shot from the bottom of the right circle. The save was Mason’s fourth of the period and 10th since coming in to relieve Emery.

The Flyers took the lead with 1:01 left in the period on a line rush goal. Voracek carried the puck over the blueline and found Del Zotto speeding up the left side. The defenseman placed the shot under the crossbar and into the net. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare got the secondary assist on Del Zotto’s fourth goal of the season.

The 3-2 lead was short-lived. After Luke Schenn turned over a puck inside the Coyotes blueline, Tobias Rieder scored a breakaway goal over Mason’s glove at 19:22. Shane Doan and Antoine Vermette got the helpers on Rieder’s seventh goal of the season.

Shots in the second period were 12-5 Flyers (28-15 Flyers through two periods). Faceoffs were 11-7 Arizona (25-20 Arizona through two). 3RD PERIOD

Smith made a stop on Ryan White form the left circle about 90 seconds into the third period. It was 26th save of the game and first of the third period Mason made his first stop of the period at 3:20, stopping a right circle shot.

The Coyotes were unable to convert a 2-on-1 about nine minutes into the stanza. Mason then had to make a point-blank stop shortly thereafter.

The teams traded off numerous chances over the course of latter part of the second period but neither Smith nor Mason gave way.

Shots in the third period were (41-24 Flyers through regulation). OVERTIME/SHOOTOUT

Mason carefully hung onto a Yandle shot from the left circle at the 27-second mark. Later in the period, Arizona had a 2-on-1 after a Carlo Colaicovo miscue but Sam Gagner shot the puck over the net with 44 seconds left in OT.

Shots in overtime were 3-1 Arizona (42-27 Flyers for the game). The game moved to the shootout.

Top of 1st round (0-0): Gagner missed the net on a backhander after moving left.

Bottom of 1st round (0-0): Voracek shot first for the Flyers. Moving left, he was denied.

Top of 2nd round (0-0): Ekman-Larsson’s five-hole attempt was closed up by Mason.

Bottom of 2nd round (0-0): Giroux beat Smith with a quick shot release but the but ticked a shot off the post.

Top of 3rd round (0-0): Vermette went to his backhand and was stuffed by Mason.

Bottom of 3rd round (1-0 Flyers): Simmonds pulled off a west-east deke and scored on the forehand to win the shootout and grab a bonus point for the Flyers. POSTGAME NOTES AND QUOTES

* The Flyers will hold a noon practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees on Wednesday afternoon. The following evening, the team will host the Winnipeg Jets at the Wells Fargo Center.

* With the win, the Flyers improved to 13-7-3 on home ice this season. The team’s next three games are at the Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers are 2-0-0 to date on the current five-game homestand.

* Petr Straka made his NHL debut for the Flyers, skating 10:08 of ice time in 13 shifts. He showed good speed on a couple of shifts, attempting one shot that blocked. Straka also blocked an Arizona shot and was credited with one hit.

* Before the game, Straka denied being nervous about his debut. “It’s another hockey game for me. It’s a big hockey game for me. But it’s the same hockey game I’ve played for 15-16 years now, so I’m just going to enjoy the moment and hope to leave a good impression,” he said.

* Straka went to bed early on Monday night and was not aware of his callup when he first woke up in the morning. The first clue was the number of missed calls and texts on his cellphone. “I had the whole day [and the] car drive to think about it,” he said. “My phone was on fire for five hours.”

* Rob Zepp has not yet officially been set back to the Phantoms. He was a healthy scratch for this game as the third goaltender.

* Ryan White made his Flyers debut after missing the first half of the season due to a preseason torn pectoral muscle and then a stint in the American Hockey League with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. In 9:04 of ice time over 13 shifts, White recorded three shots on goal, was credited with three hits and went 3-for-8 on faceoffs. He took the Flyers’ lone penalty of the game.

* Arizona went 33 for 65 on faceoffs in the game. Sean Couturier led Philly at 11-for-17.

* Wayne Simmonds on his power play goal: “We moved the puck really well during the power play. Streiter was able to get a good shot off. I tipped the puck and was able to follow up on my own rebound and put it in.”

* Simmonds on his personal objectives after the All-Star break: “I think I can do better. I think there’s always room for improvement no matter what. I think that’s why you play because you want to get better every single day and that’s why you practice. It’s all about your work ethic. That’s how I see myself and how my team sees itself. Obviously our team isn’t doing the best that we could be. We know we can get better and we’re going to continue to strive to get better.”

* Steve Mason on relieving Emery emery in the game: “It wasn’t exactly the plan for me to go in late but it was probably easier that way to just get thrown in not expect anything and not think about it that much. You know with a long layoff there’s obviously room for improvement. Tonight the guys won the game with a good effort from start to finish. Allowed me to get my feet back under.”

* Mason in response to a question about how long it took him feel comfortable in net: “Overtime actually. I kinda had tunnel vision for the majority of the game were I was just kind of locked in on the puck rather than the play around it, which as a goaltender isn’t a good thing. You want to be able to see what’s going on for the whole ice. But over the course of the game I felt a little bit more comfortable. But it wasn’t until I started sweating in overtime that I started to feel more normal.”

* Mason on working around the lack of practice time: “The body felt fine. It was just a matter of getting the timing back of the game because I really haven’t practiced in two and a half weeks. For a goaltender, timing is everything out there and reading the play as it develops off the rush. That’s the biggest thing we’ll be working on tomorrow in practice … to get that back underneath me.”

* Mason on slamming the door in the shootout: “It’s what happened the last two times. To have success the last two times is nice because we put the work in which we touched on the last time we won in a shootout. It’s nice to get rewarded because it’s been an Achilles heal for this hockey club which cost points but tonight was another good one kind of the same one as last time with Simmer having a big goal.”

* Mason on what he did during the All-Star break: “Didn’t do a whole lot. Went to rehab here and the training staff obviously needed some time off too so I took a couple of days to go to New York City with my girlfriend. But I spent most of the time in the hotel out there because I was under the weather.”

* R.J. Umberger on his goal: “Umberger in his goal: “It was a good shift by our line. Everybody was involved. We got a few good chances. He (Smith) made a great kick save on me back door. We were able to win the puck on the rebound and the puck found its way to Mac. I stayed in that same spot and he found me. I just wanted to get it on net and was able to find that top corner.”

* Michael Del Zotto on his goal: “Jakey made a great play, kind of holding on, making their D respect him in the middle of the ice. I timed it wide and he made a great pass. I just tried to throw the puck high-blocker and was lucky enough to score.”

* Jakub Voracek on the first period: “We still get [16] shots off in the first period. I think we were skating well for not practicing for a week. So I think we had a good jump and we were all pretty pumped up to get back at it. We found a way to win the game and the end counts the most, so.”

* Voracek on the mood when the score was 2-0: “We were pretty confident. Like I said I don’t think we had a bad jump we were skating, or at least that’s the way we felt on the bench. We didn’t panic, we stuck with it, and I think the power play was very good today. We had a couple of opportunities, scored on the first one, had a very good power play on the second one and like I said this morning, it doesn’t matter how but if you’re going to find a way to win the games that’s what counts.”

* Claude Giroux on Mason: “He played really good. He hasn’t played in a while, and, you know, he’s working hard. I think the whole team worked hard, so I think we’ve got to keep the same attitude.”

* Craig Berube on Mason: “I thought he played well and did a good job. It’s not easy, but he went in there and competed, that was the biggest thing for me. I think he probably wasn’t as sharp as he would like to be, but he competed hard and ended up winning the game.”

* Berube on whether Mason could have started since he felt well enough to back up and played well in relief: “Not really, not in that situation. I think not enough practice time, I know Ray Emery was off for five days too but he finished up playing a game and played well. I thought I wasn’t really too sure about starting Mason.”

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