- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 16, 2016

Steve Mason slumped in the crease, leaned back on his his legs and looked up at the Verizon Center rafters. Presumably he closed his eyes and tried to wish away what just happened, though what transpired was very much for real.

It was the ultimate snapshot of defeat — the look of a goalie who just gave up a goal that left a sinking feeling in his gut even after his teammates scored roughly seven minutes later.

Two minutes and 26 seconds into Washington Capitals’ 3-1 victory, left wing Jason Chimera chipped the puck into the Flyers’ end to initiate a line change shortly after both teams returned to full strength. As Mason tried to sweep the spinning puck aside it slipped under his stick and into the net, giving Washington a two-goal lead.

Flyers left wing Jakub Voracek scored 9:37 into the period to cut the deficit in half, but Philadelphia never got any closer as the Capitals took a 2-0 edge in the series.

“It wasn’t good,” Mason said when asked how he felt after giving up the goal. “My fault, obviously. Put the team in a tough position after that. Just a bad goal. I tried to put it into the corner and I messed up.”



Mason fielded additional questions, such as how he felt after maneuvering into bending split just moments before and about returning to Philadelphia for Game 3 of the series, before addressing others about the goal.


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Even when he was asked about how his teammates picked him up and not the goal directly, he put the burden on himself.

“Endless support for the boys, but at the same time it’s my fault and I realize that and it can’t happen moving forward here,” Mason said.

Chimera’s goal was launched from 101 feet, putting him on the other side of the center line. Had the puck not gone in, it would have been icing and a faceoff would have ensued. Instead, the Flyers ended up in a two-goal hole.

“I’ve been on the other side of those,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “For us, it didn’t do anything, really. We just said, you know, we got a break. It’s the playoffs. We got a break. It didn’t give us momentum or anything, I don’t think. We just knew that Mason has been really good in this series and he’ll probably continue to be very good in this series and we’re going to have to make it difficult — more difficult — than we did tonight.”

Chimera was unavailable for comment after the game because he was getting treatment from the athletic training staff, a team spokesman said.

Defenseman Karl Alzner said his teammate was stunned the puck actually went in.

“You feel bad, kind of, for the other team, typically,” Alzner said. “Not so much in the playoffs, but it’s — I’m no goalie, but I’ve tried to handle spinning pucks before and you just have no idea where they’re going. It’s unfortunate for [Mason] for them, but you take them any way you can get them.”

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said he was pleased with the way his team responded after the fluky goal by scoring one of their own.

“Water off a duck’s back,” Hakstol said. “Go back and play. That’s exactly what we did.”

Hakstol was also asked about making a goaltending change in Game 3 and scoffed at the question considering the game just ended. He went on to support Mason and said that he’d evaluate the entire lineup and “do what’s best for our hockey team,” and left it at that.

As painful as it was for Mason to bear the burden of Chimera’s goal, his teammates quickly reminded him they would not be here without him. The goalie that has allowed six goals in the first two games is the same that turned away 18 of 19 shots in the Flyers’ win against the Pittsburgh Penguins to clinch a playoff spot on April 9.

“I mean, [Mason] has bailed us out so many times,” center Claude Giroux said. “We’re not too worried about that.”

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