Flyers' Akeson scores in NHL debut, salutes his inspiring mom

 OTTAWA _ There were lots of feel-good elements to the Flyers’ season-ending 2-1 win in Ottawa on Saturday night.

At the top of the list: Jason Akeson scored in his NHL debut and afterward said his mother, who has overcome cancer, was his inspiration.

Akeson, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound winger who was the Phantoms’ top scorer the last two seasons, happened to grow up not too far from Ottawa, in Orleans, where Claude Giroux lived a few blocks away.

Did we mention that Giroux helped set up Akeson’s goal 3:46 into the game?

Storybook stuff, to be sure.

“Just playing in an NHL game was something special; something I’ll always remember,” Akeson said. “And to score a goal, it makes it that much more special.”

“I grew up watching these guys play,” said Akeson, who idolized Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson as a youngster.

Akeson, 22, had a cut on his face, but didn’t seem to mind.

“I got a little hit there, but chicks dig scars, so it’s all right,” he said with a smile.

Akeson said his mom, Patricia Wheatley, was in remission and “getting her hair back” after cancer treatments.

“It’s pretty exciting for me. It’s something you can’t put into words,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of her, and everything she’s been through has helped me a lot. She’s made me a stronger person, and I thank her for that and thank her for being that strong. Now she’s good and now she’s back at it.”

Goalie Steve Mason recorded his 100th career victory and was absolutely brilliant. Again.

Mason stopped 43 of 44 shots. In seven games with the Flyers, he went 4-2 (one no-decision) with a 1.90 goals-against average and .944 save percentage.

If the Flyers decide not to buyout Ilya Bryzgalov, there will be a spirited battle for the No. 1 goalie spot next season.

Jake Voracek scored the game-winner with 9:58 left. It was his 22d goal, tops on the team.

For the Flyers, there was one negative: They began the game with the eighth-worst record in the NHL; they ended the night with the 11th -worst mark (and it could be 12th-worst, pending Phoenix’s late-night result).

Their odds at winning the No. 1 pick in Monday’s weighted draft lottery were only 3.6 percent at the start of the game. They dropped to 1.5 percent after the victory. (Before their late-season surge, the Flyers had about a 14 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick.)

The Flyers won six of their last seven, including the final four games, and finished 23-22-3 _ the first time all season they had more wins than regulation losses.

But they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007 _ and for just the second time in the last 18 seasons.

Breakaways. In a classy move, coach Peter Laviolette put winger Mike Knuble in the lineup. Knuble, 40, will probably retire. If he doesn’t play next season, he hopes to land a job in a team’s player-personnel department. The classy Knuble has 278 goals in 16 seasons….Luke Schenn had eight hits and Brayden Schenn had seven.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @Broad StBull.