PHILADELPHIA - Steve Mason grabbed his right knee in pain in his last start and headed straight for the exit.
Weeks later in relief, Mason stood tall in net for the Flyers.
Wayne Simmonds scored in regulation and got the winning goal in a shootout to lift the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night.
After the Flyers missed on their first two shootout attempts, Simmonds beat Mike Smith for the winner.
The Flyers earned their second shootout win of the season and are now 2-5 in shootouts this year. They've won their last two after losing 10 straight.
Mason gave the Flyers a shot to win with a sensational relief effort for the Flyers. He made 22 saves over the final 2 1/2 periods in his first game since Jan. 10 to help them rally from a 2-0 deficit.
"For a goaltender, timing is everything out there," Mason said.
He saved the Flyers at the perfect time. Mason said he told coach Craig Berube in the morning he was healthy enough to back up Emery.
"I think he probably wasn't as sharp as he would like to be, but he competed hard and ended up winning the game," Berube said.
Connor Murphy, Martin Erat and Tobias Rieder scored for the Coyotes.
R.J. Umberger and Michael Del Zotto also scored for the Flyers.
The Flyers and Coyotes were tied 3-all through two periods in a matchup of two of the worst teams in the NHL.
Each team took a spin giving up leads just like bad teams do.
For the Coyotes, it was blowing a 2-0 lead after they chased Ray Emery.
For the Flyers, it was allowing a tying goal with just 37 seconds left in the second period instead of heading into intermission with momentum.
"That's a big, big goal late in the second period, especially when we've given up a couple and let them right back into the game," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. "I thought we played solid in the third, and too bad we couldn't get the extra point in the shootout."
Emery was benched only 5:50 into the game after Murphy and Erat beat him for two fast goals. Murphy scored his third goal of the season on a shot from the slot that popped over Emery's shoulder. Erat knocked in a rebound for his seventh, and scored Arizona's second goal on only four shots.
"It's always nice when you come on the road a get a two goal lead," Erat said. "You have to know and learn how to play with it."
Emery took a drink from the water bottle and turned around to find Mason on the ice and ready in relief. Mason, their No. 1 starter, hadn't played since suffering what the Flyers called a lower-body injury Jan. 10 against Boston.
He returned to a rousing ovation — and was soon in position for a win.
Mason said it was a "shock" he was asked to take over so early in the game. Mason, who battled the flu over the weekend, hadn't faced many shots during his layoff and had wondered if the knee injury could become worse than expected. He refused to comment when asked if surgery was on the table.
"The body felt fine, it was just a matter of getting timing back in the game," Mason said.
Simmonds cut it to 2-1 with his 17th late in the first. Umberger tied it 2-all on his ninth when he flipped the puck over Smith's shoulder in the second.
"I just wanted to get it on net and was able to find that top corner," Umberger said.
Del Zotto gave the Flyers the lead for the first time when his fourth goal pinged — the sound could be heard high above the upper deck — off the crossbar and past a stunned Smith.
The Flyers' lead lasted all of 23 seconds. Rieder evened the score 3-3 when he slipped one past Mason with just 37.1 seconds left in the period.
"They can't be scoring goals at that time," Mason said.
No worries. Mason shut them down from there.
NOTES: Murphy's father, Gord, is an assistant with the Flyers. ... Flyers F Petr Straka, 6-foot, 195 pounds, was recalled from the AHL and made his NHL debut. He had 20 goals for 44 points in 99 career games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.