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Mason could start in goal for Flyers in Game 4

by Mike G. Morreale

PHILADELPHIA -- Steve Mason may reclaim his role as starting goaltender when the Philadelphia Flyers host the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round series at Wells Fargo Center.

Mason saw his first action of the series Tuesday when he entered Game 3 with 7:15 remaining in the third period after starter Ray Emery yielded his fourth goal in a 4-1 loss. It was his first appearance since sustaining an upper-body injury April 12 against the Pittsburgh Penguins when Pittsburgh forward Jayson Megna pushed Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald into the 25-year-old goalie.

The win gives the Rangers a 2-1 lead in this best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series. Game 4 is Friday night (7 p.m. ET; RDS,TSN,CNBC,MSG,CSN-PH).

Mason had said after practicing Monday that he would not dress for Game 3. But he skated on his own with goalie coach Jeff Reese for about 35 minutes Tuesday morning, then alternated practice drills with Calvin Heeter during the morning skate. Coach Craig Berube announced two hours prior to the opening faceoff that Mason would serve as Emery's backup.

"He didn't get a lot of work but at that time I thought it a good idea to get him in there," Berube said. "He looked OK."

Mason stopped all three shots he faced in relief after Emery, who was splendid in a 4-2 victory in Game 2 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, allowed four goals on 20 shots.

"I understand Mase hasn't played in a while," Emery said. "It's 4-1. I'm guessing you want to get in there and get him to have a feel for things."

Berube acknowledged that he will likely take the next two days to determine his starter for Friday.

"We'll look at it," Berube said. "I have a couple of days to figure it out and get some practice time. Then we'll make a decision."

Mason, who was 33-18-7 with a 2.50 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in 61 regular-season games this season, was unsure if he would earn his first playoff start for the Flyers.

"I think it's been a while since game action, you can practice as much as you want but once the game rolls around things happen quickly and you can't control everything out there so it was good to get back out," Mason said. "I have no idea if I'll be in net on Friday."

Flyers captain Claude Giroux said the team would support whoever starts Game 4.

"It's not our decision," he said. "Like I said before, Ray has been playing great for us. Mase has been one of our best players this year. Whatever decision they try, we are going to be ready to go."


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