Chris Mason has been making the most of his chance as the No. 1 goaltender for the Nashville Predators. He'll look for another shutout when the Predators host the Colorado Avalanche on Monday.
Mason has started every game for the Predators since Tomas Vokoun tore ligaments in his left thumb Nov. 23. Vokoun is expected to return to the ice in a few weeks, but Mason's play has allowed Vokoun to take his time.
Mason has gone 15-6-2 and has a better goals-against average (2.27 to 2.48) and save percentage (.929 to .920) than Vokoun, who signed the richest contract extension in team history in the offseason.
"People on our team and on other teams realize we have two guys who can play," Mason said. "Vokoun is obviously one of the best goalies in the world. When a team has two guys who play goaltender that is a benefit."
Mason already has posted a career high in wins and shutouts, and tied the team record with his fourth blanking of the season in a 5-0 win over Boston on Saturday. He stopped 38 shots to help Nashville win for the eighth time in 10 games and maintain its lead in the Central Division over Detroit.
The Predators (26-10-3), in the midst of playing eight of 10 games at home, are 12-2-3 at the Gaylord Entertainment Center.
"I just love playing hockey," Mason said. "I don't worry about the numbers too much. If you have a bad game it just really consumes so much of your thoughts. I love the opportunity I have right now. I'm just trying to take advantage of it."
Mason got his first shutout of the season in Nashville's first meeting with Colorado. He made 42 saves in a 1-0 home win Nov. 11, the Predators' seventh victory in the last eight matchups with the Avalanche.
Before this recent stretch, Nashville had won only four of 21 games against Colorado since entering the NHL in 1998-99.
After winning five of six games to get over .500, the Avalanche (18-18-2) have lost three in a row to slip to the bottom of the Northwest Division. Colorado lost 5-4 at home to Dallas on Wednesday, then got swept in a home-and-home series by St. Louis, including a 2-0 defeat Saturday.
The Avs were 0-for-6 on the power play after going 7-for-22 with a manpower advantage over the previous four games. Both Blues goals came on the power play, while the Avalanche failed to score during a two-man advantage in the second period.
"That was the differential tonight, special teams," said Colorado coach Joel Quenneville, whose team has lost three of its past four road games.
Avalanche captain Joe Sakic needs one point to tie Paul Coffey for 10th on the all-time list with 1,531 points. Former Avalanche teammate Ray Bourque is ninth with 1,579 points.
Sakic has 24 points in 27 games against Nashville.