NASHVILLE - Flyers goalie Steve Mason, who has missed the last four games with an apparent back injury, returned to practice Saturday and said he felt "close to 100 percent."

After taking shots from the team's extra players, Mason said he hopes to play Monday in Arizona.

"My goal is to play against Arizona; today was a really good first step," Mason said after a 45-minute, on-ice workout in Nashville. "I think I got more work in than we had planned, which was a good sign. I was moving good, and my energy level was pretty good as well.

"My personal goal is Arizona, but at the end of the day, I don't decide who plays," said Mason, who added he was "moving pretty naturally, so I'm not too worried about it now."

Mason was injured on what he called "a nothing play" toward the end of practice Dec. 20, falling to the ice in agony.

"I've never experienced anything like this. I can't even describe the pain I was in," he said. "I was definitely worried for a couple days until we got good news from the MRIs . . . and our training staff did a great job of getting me back."

Before he got the good news on his MRI, Mason said he feared the injury would sideline him for a long time.

"From when it happened to the way I feel now, I never imagined I could feel this good as quickly as I did," said Mason, who was so sore when he was first injured that he needed help to get out of bed.


Center Ryan White will be sent to the AHL Phantoms Sunday for a conditioning stint. . . . Perhaps taking a shot at the Flyers' unsuccessful bid to land a certain marquee defenseman two years ago, the Predators held Shea Weber bobblehead night Saturday. . . . Saturday was the first time since the 1999-2000 season - Nashville's second year in existence - that a Predators-Flyers game did not have Scott Hartnell or Kimmo Timonen on one of the teams.