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This Day in History



by @NHLFlyers /

Trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 late in the third period of Game 6 of a classic 2004 Eastern Conference Finals series, the Philadelphia Flyers faced playoff elimination. Enter Flyers captain Keith Primeau.

Enjoying a spectacular playoff run marked by one clutch goal or assist after another, Primeau virtually willed the Flyers to tie the game. First, he won a puck battle in the corner and got the puck out to defenseman Mattias Timander at the left point. Collecting the loose rebound of Timander's shot near the left post, Primeau quickly wheeled around behind the net and stuffed the puck home past goalie Nikolai Khabibulin to knot the game at 18:11. The orange-clad home crowd went bonkers.

Overtime was grueling and tense. Finally, with time ticking down under two minutes, Jeremy Roenick won a battle (while down on his knees) behind the net and shoveled the puck to Simon Gagne in the right corner. Gagne then sent the puck back around behind the net to Primeau, who skated out front. With Roenick moving toward the left slot, Primeau sent a pass to Roenick. With a defender in close proximity, Roenick spotted Gagne getting open near the right post. An accurate Roenick pass and a quick finish by Gagne later at the 18:18 mark, and the Flyers had a 5-4 win.

Both Primeau and Gagne scored twice in the game. Each player tallied in the first period to erased an early 1-0 deficit. Sami Kapanen notched a second-period goal for Philly. However, a pair of goals by Vincent Lecavalier and Ruslan Fedotenko provided Tampa with the 4-3 lead they took into the latter stages of the third period.

Tampa Bay went on to win Game 7 on home ice by a 2-1 score. Primeau, who by now was primarily used as a shutdown defensive center and had tallied just 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 54 games during the regular season, finished his magical postseason run with 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 18 games.

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Flyers, Leighton Blank Montreal Again: May 18, 2010

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After making NHL history with their second-round comeback against the Boston Bruins, the Philadelphia Flyers showed no signs of physical fatigue or mental letdown in the Eastern Conference Final against the Montreal Canadiens. The Flyers opened the series with a 6-0 blowout win in Game One.

Two nights later, the Flyers did it again, shutting out the Canadiens for the second straight time. This time, the score was 3-0. Goals by Danny Briere (power play), Simon Gagne (power play) and Ville Leino led the way offensively. Leino also assisted on the Gagne goal. Philadelphia closed the game out with authority, outshooting Montreal by a 10-4 margin in the third period

After notching a 28-save shutout in the series opener, Michael Leighton stopped all 30 shots fired on his net in Game Two. His best work came in the opening period as he was called upon to make 16 saves. Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak turned back 20 of 23.

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Opening Game of '87 Final: May 17, 1987

by @NHLFlyers /

The dynastic Edmonton Oilers opened the 1987 Stanley Cup Final with a 4-2 win on home ice against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game One. However, the Flyers played the Oilers evenly for about 50 of the

The game was tied, 1-1, entering the third period. Wayne Gretzky and Brian Propp traded off late first-period and late-second period goals respectively. Unfortunately for the Flyers, Edmonton pulled away in the final stanza.

Glenn Anderson (11th goal of the playoffs) scored in the opening shift of the third period. Hall of Famers Paul Coffey and Jari Kurri (11th) then added to the lead before the period was even half finished. Rick Tocchet responded to the Kurri goal just 1:07 later and the Flyers put up a fight until the end, but the gap had grown too wide.

Philadelphia outshot Edmonton for the game, 31-26. Grant Fuhr stopped 29 of 31 shots to earn the win. Ron Hextall denied 22 of 26 shots. 

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Poulin Shorthander, Lindbergh Shutout Lift Flyers to Final: May 16, 1985

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The Flyers earned their fifth trip to the Stanley Cup Final by prevailing over the offensively potent Quebec Nordiques in six hard fought games in the 1985 Wales Conference Final. Philadelphia skated to a 3-0 win at the Spectrum in the clinching game in May 16, 1985.

The pivotal play came at 2:01 of the second period. The Flyers were clinging to a 1-0 lead provided by a first-period goal by Rick Tocchet but were in penalty trouble. With Joe Paterson and Brian Propp in the penalty box, the Nords had a 5-on-3 power play for one minute, 23 seconds. Suddenly, Flyers captain Dave Poulin intercepted a puck near the defensive blueline and found himself with a clean breakaway on diminutive (5-foot-8) butterfly style goaltender Mario Gosselin.

"I had way too much time to think," Poulin recalls. "All series we had been preaching, 'Shoot high on Gosselin.'"

That's exactly what Poulin did, and he made no mistake as he elevated the puck over the goalie and sent the sold-out Spectrum into a frenzy.

Vezina Trophy winning goaltender Pelle Lindbergh took it from there. The Nordiques became increasingly frustrated and disheartened, especially after Doug Crossman tacked on a power play goal.

As the game wore on, Mike Keenan's Flyers dominated. Philly would up outshooting the Nordiques by a 36-15 margin to clinch the Prince of Wales Trophy and move on to play the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final.


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Bernie Returns (May 15, 1973), Clarkie Retires (May 15, 1984)

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Two franchise-changing moments in Flyers history happened 11 years apart on May 15: the 1973 reacquisition of Bernie Parent and the retirement of the iconic Bobby Clarke in 1984.

In perhaps the most vital trade in franchise history, the Flyers reacquire the NHL rights of goaltender Bernie Parent from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a 1973 first-round draft pick (Bob Neely) and goaltender Doug Favell. Philadelphia also acquired a 1973 second-round pick (defenseman Larry "Izzy" Goodenough) in the trade.

Parent, of course, went on to win back-to-back Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophies, backstopping the Flyers to the Stanley Cup in 1973-74 and 1974-75. On the same day the organization brought back Parent, the Flyers also traded defenseman Rick Foley to the Detroit Red Wings for Serje Lajeunesse.

The single most important player in franchise history Hall of Fame center and longtime captain Clarke announced his retirement as a player at age 34. Upon his retirement, Clarke was simultaneously introduced as the fourth general manager in franchise history, succeeding dismissed GM/head coach Bob McCammon,

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Flyers Complete Historic Comeback vs. Bruins: May 14, 2010

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In the final installment of their historic comeback from a three games to zero deficit against the Boston Bruins in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Philadelphia Flyers saved the best for last.

After trailing the host Boston Bruins by a 3-0 score late in the first period, the intrepid Flyers storm back to score four unanswered goals in regulation.

James van Riemsdyk gave Philadelphia some life at 17:12 of the first period. Scott Hartnell narrowed the gap to one goal at 2:49 of the second period and then Danny Briere notched the tying goal at 8:39 of the second period. The game settled into a 3-3 deadlock until an opportunistic Simon Gagne power play goal at 12:52 of the third period put the Flyers ahead to stay. After yielding three early goals, Michael Leighton (22 saves) settled down the rest of the way as Philly started to take over the game.

With their victory in the series, the Flyers became just the third team in NHL history to win a playoff series after trailing three games to zero. The others were the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1942 Stanley Cup Final against the Detroit Red Wings and the 1975 New York Islanders against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Quarterfinal.

In 2014, the Los Angeles Kings became the fourth team to join the exclusive Comeback Club, downing the San Jose Sharks after trailing three games to zero in the Western Conference Quarterfinal.

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Flyers Earn Second Straight Trip to Cup Final: May 13, 1975

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On May 13, 1975, the Philadelphia Flyers finally put away the New York Islanders in the seventh and deciding game of the Stanley Cup semifinals with a 4-1 win at the Spectrum. After recovering from three games to zero deficit to win their quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Isles nearly do the same in the semis against the defending champion Flyers.

Rick MacLeish (hat trick) and company were not about to let it happen. Gary Dornhoefer set the tone, giving Philly a 1-0 lead just 19 seconds into the game. Philly held the Isles to just 15 shots for the game, and Bernie Parent stopped 14.

Prior to the game, Flyers' good luck charm Kate Smith sang a live rendition of "God Bless America."


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Flyers Take Series Lead on Bruins: May 12, 1974

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On May 12, 1974, the Philadelphia Flyers took a two games to one lead in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins with a 4-1 win at the Spectrum.

After yielding a goal to John Bucyk barely a minute into the first period, Bernie Parent blanked Boston the rest of the way on the next 24 shots. First period goals by Tom Bladon (power play) and fourth-line center Terry Crisp gave Philly a 2-1 by the first intermission.

After a scoreless middle frame, Orest Kindrachuk and Ross Lonsberry provided some third-period insurance. Flyers leading playoff scorer Rick MacLeish assisted on Philly's first and fourth goals.

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Flyers Put Buffalo Away: May 11, 1997

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The Philadelphia Flyers have reached the Stanley Cup Final eight times in franchise history: the most of any team that joined the NHL in its 1967 expansion or beyond. In fact, since the 1967-68 season, only the Montreal Canadiens (11) and Boston Bruins (nine) have earned more trips to the Final among all NHL franchises.

Including seasons where they reached the championship round, the Flyers have made it to the Stanley Cup Semifinals (later called the Conference finals) round 16 times in franchise history. The 12th time came in 1997, as the Flyers closed out the Buffalo Sabres in five games to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the arch-rival New York Rangers.

Game Five in the Eastern Conference Semifinals took place in Buffalo on May 11, 1997.

The game was scoreless at the first intermission before John LeClair and Eric Lindros forged a 2-0 lead in the second period. Lindros then successfully converts a penalty shot to make it a 3-0 game.

The Sabres pushed back, to their credit, scoring three of the next four goals. Finally, a pair of tallies by Flyers rookie Dainius Zubrus dashed the Sabres' hopes of a comeback. Philadelphia prevailed, 6-3.

The Flyers would go on to take out the Rangers in five games, clinching Philly's seventh trip to the Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.

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Pelle Eklund Puts on Playoff Show in Montreal: May 10, 1987

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For most his distinguished career with the Flyers, spritely forward Per-Erik "Pelle" Eklund much preferred to use his speed, ice vision and puck skills to set up teammates for goals. However, the gifted playmaking Swedish forward was often reluctant to shoot the puck, even when he had open opportunities.

During the 1987 Wales Conference Finals against the Montreal Canadiens temporarily shed his reticence to look for scoring chances of his own, and results were spectacular. Perhaps the greatest game of his NHL career came in Game 5 of the series. Eklund puts on an electrifying show, scoring a hat trick in spectacular fashion. The Habs, simply could not cope with his anticipation, speed and shiftiness.

Scott Mellanby, Brian Propp and Ron Sutter also scored for Philly, as the Flyers grabbed a three games to one lead in the series. Flyers rookie goalie Ron Hextall outplayed both Patrick Roy (16 saves on 20 shots) and Brian Hayward (five saves on seven shots). Hextall stopped 25 of 28 shots and earns an assist on Sutter's first period goal. Montreal recovered from an early 2-0 deficit to tie the game before Eklund and company pulled away to move within one victory of a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

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