PHILADELPHIA – If Buck Brannaman, the inspiration for the book by Nicholas Evans and movie starring Robert Redford, is known as the Horse Whisperer, it’s probably safe to now call Flyers legend Bernie Parent the goalie whisperer.
Ever since he took a few minutes to have a conversation with Steve Mason at the Flyers Wives Carnival a little more than a week ago, Mason has been lights out in goal.
In the five games since, Mason has given up just seven goals and recorded two shutouts and followed them up with a beauty Thursday - a 38-save effort in a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
And while critics would say the first shutout against Detroit came against a depleted lineup and the second shutout against Los Angeles came against a Los Angeles Kings team that matched a record for goal-scoring futility that dated back to 1929, there was no way to sluff off his gutsy effort against the Avs.
Fighting through some sort of discomfort that had him taking medication both at the bench and on the ice during timeouts, Mason was brilliant against a pesky and talented Colorado squad.
He was especially quick with the glove hand, robbing Colorado of several could-be goals, but he really left Ryan O’Reilly feeling snakebit twice with his right-handed robbery – as broadcaster Jim Jackson likes to call it.
Not until all-world rookie Nathan McKinnon sneaked a shot past Mason on the short side in the final minutes was he penetrable. And even then, missing out on a chance at his third shutout in five games, Mason rebounded brilliantly and made a heck of a post-to-post save on P.A. Parenteau to deny the tying goal.
He did enough early as well to keep the Flyers in the game after a bit of a sleepy start in the first period, but Mark Streit put the Flyers on the board first with a power play goal – his eighth marker of the season and the eighth consecutive game the Flyers scored with the man advantage – and that proved to be enough for Mason to secure the win.
Michael Raffl also scored, his third goal in four games, as the Flyers (29-23-6, 64 points) stretched their winning streak to three straight games.
Claude Giroux sealed off the victory with an empty-net goal that moved him into the Top 10 in scoring in the NHL.
There’ll be a lot more on this one, so stay tuned to PhiladelphiaFlyers.com for a complete recap, analysis, locker room notes, highlights and postgame video.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org