CALGARY, Alberta - Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau took over the NHL rookie scoring lead Thursday night - at the expense of the team he followed while growing up in South Jersey.

Gaudreau had a goal and two assists as the Flames whipped the down-and-out Flyers, 4-1, at the Saddledome.

"He keeps getting better, and I think we're far from seeing him at [his best]," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "He has the ability to get open, he wants to learn, and he's a competitor. You put all this together and you have quite a player."

The 21-year-old Gaudreau has 20 goals and 36 assists and is making a strong bid to win the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.

The Flyers suffered their eighth straight road defeat and slipped to 29-29-15, while Calgary moved into a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Flyers, now 9-20-9 on the road, had won five straight at Calgary since their last loss here in 2001.

After the game, the Flyers held a players-only meeting. Defenseman Luke Schenn said the meeting was to make sure the players stayed focused in the last nine games.

"Obviously we know the situation right now and where we're at," he said. "At the end of the day, it comes down to pride, and obviously we didn't have much of that tonight."

Once again, the Flyers didn't produce for goalie Steve Mason. They failed to score before Mason (14 saves) was surprisingly pulled from the game late in the second period, with the Flyers facing a 2-0 deficit.

The Flyers have scored two goals or fewer in 17 of Mason's 19 road games. Because of the lack of support, he has one road win all season.

Mason was pulled after allowing a goal on a long screened shot.

"He's played extremely well, and kept us in probably 95 percent of the games this year," Schenn said. ". . . You definitely can't put the blame on him. It's embarrassing we hung him out to dry a bit."

In his last four road starts, the Flyers have scored a total of two goals while Mason has been in the net. Mason is 1-12-6 on the road.

After a Schenn turnover led to a three-on-two Calgary break, defenseman Dennis Wideman's right-circle blast went through Mason's pads to give the Flames a 1-0 lead with 3:45 left in the second period.

Less than two minutes later, defenseman T.J. Brodie's point drive got past Mason, who was screened by teammate Nick Schultz.

Coach Craig Berube pulled Mason and inserted Ray Emery.

After the game, Berube said he wasn't happy with either goal Mason allowed.

Mason was caught off-guard by the goalie switch.

"Aside from the one goal there, I was happy with my game and feeling good," he said. "Chief [Berube] made the move to try to gain momentum, but unfortunately, we couldn't come back."

The Flyers got to within 2-1 when Claude Giroux converted a Jake Voracek pass for a tap-in with 8.8 seconds remaining in the period. Giroux snapped a 10-game goal-less drought.

Gaudreau, the pride of Gloucester Catholic High, made a dazzling move around defenseman Mark Streit in the left circle, but Mason stopped his close shot to keep the game scoreless with about six minutes left in the first period.

The 5-foot-9, 150-pound Gaudreau, known as Johnny Hockey, is not easy to defend.

"He's a pretty shifty player," Flyers center Sean Couturier said. "I mean, he's small, but he's pretty fast and pretty good on his edge. He's hard to hit. Sometimes, small guys you can take advantage of, physically, but what makes him good is that he's a hard guy to hit and check. You've got to be careful not to give him time and space, that's for sure."

Gaudreau has moved into the rookie-of-the-year conversation as Nashville's Filip Forsberg has cooled off.  Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad and underrated Dallas defenseman John Klingberg are also in the discussion.

Breakaways

Winger R.J. Umberger had successful surgery on his right hip and abdominal area, GM Ron Hextall said.

 

scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull