By Mary Cunningham
It was a night like many nights for the Flyers who lately have been mired in the netherworld of the NHL’s bottom half, not exactly where the team’s management and Flyers Nation thought they would be.
Steve Mason (photo above) was good enough to earn a shutout and get the Flyers a rare point on the road. Jaroslav Halak and the New York Islanders are just too good in shootouts for Mason to leave Long Island with a win, too.
Frans Nielsen and John Tavares finally solved Mason, and the Islanders outlasted the Flyers 1-0 on Monday night to post the best 21-game start in franchise history.
And Flyers coach Craig Berube had had enough.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t play better,” Berube said after the game. “We didn’t have enough guys that competed hard enough, that showed enough urgency throughout the game.”
His players’ effort at Nassau Coliseum was similar to last Wednesday night’s 2-0 loss to the Rangers.
“The thing that disappoints me … I talked about it, the urgency of some of our players and the competitive of some of them,” Berube said after a loss in which his team was outshot 46-21. “In this league if you’re not competitive and you don’t really want to get in there and play, you’re going to be on the outside all night.”
Berube didn’t specify anyone in his criticism, but Brayden Schenn had no shots in 15:43 of ice time, and at one point fourth-liner Pierre-Edouard Bellemare took a shift on the top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, both of whom topped 20 minutes in ice time.
R. J. Umberger and Vinnie Lecavalier had a shot apiece and neither ended up 15 minutes of ice time.
“Very frustrating,” Berube said. “The Rangers game and now the Islanders game. We didn’t play good enough in front of (Mason).”
Mason stopped 46 shots through overtime, but after denying Kyle Okposo, he was beaten twice. The shutout was his first this season.
“It’s just frustrating not being able to get the extra point,” Mason said. “Hopefully, it won’t hurt us in the playoff race.
“We knew what to expect with their speed. They were as advertised. It has to be frustrating for the players, too. We left another point out there. It’s unacceptable.”
Philly has dropped five of six overall, and five straight on the road — including consecutive shutout losses. The Flyers are 2-6-1 on the road.
They are in 13th place in the Eastern Conference with only 19 points, so if the playoffs started today they would be out.
New York, which tied its season high in shots, has a team-record 15 wins through 21 games (15-6) and is 5-0 in shootouts.
Mason made 43 saves through regulation and was heavily tested in the final few minutes. He reached up to glove Okposo’s rising drive with 1:40 left in the third period and fell onto his back in the crease.
“We want to and have to play better,” Wayne Simmonds said. “We were trying to pass too much. They are a fast team, and they showed that all night. Mase was awesome, for sure. He kept us in it all night.”