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Flyers hand Blue Jackets sixth straight loss

Flyers hand Blue Jackets sixth straight loss
Published On: Sat, Apr 08
December 27, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers Claude Giroux (28) controls the puck against Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen (45) during the first period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

PHILADELPHIA -- Among goaltenders, only Ron Hextall and Bernie Parent have played in more games and have recorded more wins for the Philadelphia Flyers than Steve Mason.

Following his 20-save effort in Saturday's 4-2 win over the reeling Columbus Blue Jackets, Mason acknowledged it might have been his last in a Flyers' jersey.

"I'm definitely well aware of it," said Mason, who will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. "I'm not in a position here where moving forward I have any indication of what's going to be happening. Obviously, there's one game left in the season, then after that I become a free agent. Leading into summer time, there will be an uneasy, exciting, stressful time, I'm sure."

Mason improved to 26-21-8 and ranks third among all Flyers goalies in games (231) and wins (104).

Forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Jakub Voracek and defensemen Michael Del Zotto and Ivan Provorov scored goals for the Flyers (39-33-9), who close out the regular season on Sunday night when they face the Carolina Hurricanes. Despite a 5-1-1 run, the Flyers will not be participating in the playoffs for the third time in five seasons.

The Blue Jackets (49-24-8) received goals from defenseman Seth Jones and forward Boone Jenner, but remained winless in six games (0-5-1) and have been outscored 21-11 in that stretch.

"I am not going to pick apart what my team is right now because it's so hard to judge in these type of circumstances," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said.

Columbus has gone 2-6-2 since clinching a playoff berth on March 19. The Blue Jackets close out the regular season Sunday in Toronto and will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs.

"We have to get back to the way we're capable of playing and that's rolling all four lines and playing with a little bit of arrogance," Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson said. "It's not like on Wednesday we can just flip the switch and expect to win. We have to play the way we have all season and we've gotten away from it."

In what was likely his final regular-season game, Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky fell to 41-17-5. He has lost four straight.

Coming off a 1-0 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils, the Flyers grabbed a 2-0 lead on first-period goals 1:32 apart by Bellemare and Del Zotto.

Bellemare scored his fourth goal on a hard snap shot 12:52 into the first period and Del Zotto found the back of the net for his sixth after Bobrovsky lost his balance just outside the crease. Del Zotto's goal was originally disallowed on the ice because Sean Couturier appeared to make contact with Bobrovsky. The Flyers challenged the call and the ruling was overturned.

The Blue Jackets drew to within 2-1 just 67 seconds into the second period on Jones' power-play goal, his 12th of the season, which deflected off Provorov and past Mason. The power-play goal snapped an 0-for-20 drought for Columbus.

After a roughing penalty to Scott Hartnell, the Flyers restored their two-goal lead on Voracek's 20th goal and fifth on the power play. Provorov made it 4-1 with his seventh goal, a rising shot that beat Bobrovsky over his blocker.

The Blue Jackets again drew within two goals on Jenner's 18th goal, which caromed off the stick of Del Zotto and past Mason.

"We've been playing good hockey," Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds said. "It's just a little bit too late."

NOTES: D Zach Werenski (upper body) sat out his third straight game for the Blue Jackets. Rookie D Gabriel Carlsson, a first-round draft pick of the Blue Jackets in 2015, replaced him and made his NHL debut on a top unit with Seth Jones. ... Before the game, the Flyers handed out their annual awards. Most Valuable Player went to RW Wayne Simmonds, top defenseman went to rookie Ivan Provorov, most improved went to D Radko Gudas and class guy went to G Steve Mason. Flyers rookie RW Mike Vecchione, a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award that went to Denver's Will Butcher as college hockey's top player, was a healthy scratch. ... The Flyers paid tribute to former player and long-time European scout Ilkka Sinisalo, who passed away at age 58 on Wednesday. Former Vice President Joe Biden attended the game and was presented a Flyers jersey in honor of his son, Beau Biden, who passed away from brain cancer in 2015.

Read the complete news article here...


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Luke Schenn D
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R.J. Umberger LW
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