Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Steve Mason waited five years and two days to make his next postseason start, and didn't waste the opportunity, stopping 37 shots to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 2-1 decision over the New York Rangers to even this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at two games apiece.
In his first start since exiting an April 12 game at Pittsburgh with an upper- body injury, Mason allowed a first-period strike from Dominic Moore and then stayed perfect for the rest of the contest to record his initial playoff victory.
Mason last saw significant postseason action during his rookie season, in the 2009 Western quarters against the Detroit Red Wings, losing all four games for the Columbus Blue Jackets and giving up 17 goals -- six in his last appearance as a starter on April 23, 2009.
"It was nice to be busy and get some nice saves under my belt right off the bat. I don't really dwell on what happened five years ago. For me this is a new opportunity, and for me to finally get in there after five games felt really good," Mason admitted.
Matt Read and Jakub Voracek supplied the offense for the Flyers, who recovered from a 4-1 defeat in Tuesday's Game 3.
Henrik Lundqvist came up with 23 stops for the Rangers, who can steal back momentum on home ice for Game 5 on Sunday afternoon.
The hosts assumed the lead for good with 7:22 elapsed in the second period on a power play created when Moore cross-checked Claude Giroux. Mark Streit kept the puck in the zone long enough to find Brayden Schenn, who slid a pass diagonally from the right point to the left circle, where Voracek redirected it under the crossbar for a 2-1 contest.
Outshot by a 16-6 margin in the first, the Flyers closed the gap to 12-11 in the middle period, relying a bit too much on Mason to keep things calm. That included a diving stick stop on Ryan McDonagh with seconds to go in the frame which resulted indirectly from another turnover by home defenseman Andy MacDonald.
"It was kind of a tough play. I was trying to be patient and he was coming up slow. I bid early, he made a move to the middle and I was just able to reach back and get it with the paddle of the stick," Mason offered.
New York opened the third with a 4-on-3 advantage that fizzled, and fired 10 unsuccessful shots on goal. Lundqvist was forced to make a pad stop on Read in front with 90 seconds left, and he went to the bench for an extra skater seconds later. His teammates failed to find an equalizer.
"We believe in ourselves here. We've got to just take it day by day, get ready for practice, look at a few things, correct a few things, but have faith," McDonagh said. "Play the way we know we�re capable of and we'll be alright and just take care of business here in game five and focus on that one."
After fending off an aggressive Flyers' power play early in the contest, the Rangers picked up the game's first goal.
MacDonald failed to corral the puck inside his own blue line as the last man. It was picked up by Brian Boyle, who fed ahead to Moore on the left wing. He followed up his own rebound by circling the cage and stuffing the puck past Mason's outstretched pad at the right post at 4:38.
Read tied the game at 8:55, as he skated into a Jason Akeson shot from the left wing that caromed off the back wall and kicked back out into the opposite circle and beat Lundqvist to the short side.
"It was a 3-on-3 rush. Akeson made a great pass. He told me he meant to do that, throw the puck behind the boards, and it came right to me," Read said. "I just had to one-time it. I think Lundqvist got a piece of it but we'll take it."