Steve Mason returns as backup

Updated: April 23, 2014, 2:14 AM ET
By Katie Strang | ESPNNewYork.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Steve Mason made his first appearance of the playoffs, replacing Tuesday night starter Ray Emery in the third period of the Flyers' 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 3 of their first-round series.

It was Mason's first game back since suffering an upper-body injury in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 12, the last weekend of the regular season.

Whether he will remain in net for the Flyers when they host the Rangers in Game 4 on Friday remains to be seen. Flyers coach Craig Berube said he has yet to make a decision about his goaltending plans moving forward and will use the next two days of practice to assess the situation.

"We'll look at it," Berube said after the game. "We got a couple of days here to figure it out, get some practice time and then I'll make a decision."

The Flyers enter Friday's game trailing 2-1 in the series. But captain Claude Giroux is confident in his club's ability to tie things up in Game 4.

Some might even call this a guarantee:

"We'll be ready for Game 4," Giroux told reporters following Tuesday night's loss. "We're going to tie up the series and go back to New York."

Giroux picked up an assist on the Flyers' lone goal of the night when Mark Streit cut the Rangers' lead in half, but he has yet to find the back of the net himself. He registered his first shot on goal of the series Tuesday night.

Mason entered the game when it was already essentially out of reach for the Flyers, trailing the Rangers by three goals in the third period. Emery, who started the first three games of the series, surrendered four goals on 20 shots.

"I'm sure he wants a couple back but he's battled and he gave us an opportunity going into the third period," Berube said.

The situation provided Berube a chance to work Mason into the game and get him acclimated after more than a week of not playing. Mason faced only three shots in the 7:15 he played.

"He didn't get a lot of work. At that time, I thought it was a good idea to get him in there and get used to it a little bit," Berube said. "He looked OK. Like I said, he didn't get a lot of work."

Mason does not have a wealth of playoff experience to draw from, having played in only four postseason games previously. Mason lost all four starts he made when the Columbus Blue Jackets were swept in the first round by the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference quarterfinals back when Mason was a rookie in 2009.

If he starts Friday, that will be his first start since.

Mason initially was not slated to be available Tuesday night -- Cal Heeter was expected to back up Emery -- but the Flyers announced before the game that he would dress.

Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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