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This Day in History


Flyers Conquer Red Army: January 11, 1976

by @NHLFlyers

Hockey's version of the Cold War reached a pinnacle in the 1970s. Team Canada's narrow victory at the legendary Summit Series in 1972 only heightened the animosity and that had been between brewing between the powers-that-be in North American and Soviet hockey. 

During the 1975-76 season, the rivalry was renewed again. Two Soviet club teams - the legendary Red Army (CSKA Moscow) squad and the highly skilled, but slightly less formidable Soviet Wings (Krylya Sovetov) - toured North America and played a series of four games apiece against NHL clubs. 

By far the most anticipated matches were those pitting the Red Army against the Montreal Canadiens and the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers. Although technically exhibition games, the teams approached the matches with the same sort of focus and intensity usually reserved for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The final game of the Soviets' tour was played at the Spectrum on January 11, 1976. Entering the contest, the Red Army was undefeated. CSKA had thumped the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden by a 7-3 score, played to a thrilling 3-3 tie at the Montreal Forum against the Canadiens and downed the Boston Bruins by a 5-2 count.

There was a lot at stake entering the final game. The Flyers were not only defending their status as the NHL's preeminent team, they also found themselves in the unaccustomed position of representing North American hockey in general and the NHL in particular. Philly was the NHL's last and best hope for defeating the Red Army.

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Flyers Acquire Reg the Ruffian from Rangers

by @NHLFlyers

Over the course of his colorful NHL, WHA and minor league career, the late Reggie "the Ruffian" Fleming took on all comers as one of the most willing fighters of his era. A frequent foe during his time with the New York Rangers, Fleming became a Flyer on June 6, 1969 when the Flyers acquired him from Rangers in exchange for Leon Rochefort and Don Blackburn.

Fleming dressed in 65 games for the Flyers in 1969-70, posting 134 penalty minutes and 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists). A fan favorite during his short time in Philadelphia, the Flyers lost him in the 1970 NHL Expansion Draft after he was claimed by the Buffalo Sabres.

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Two LOD Goals Not Enough in Game 2 vs. Devils: June 5, 1995

by @NHLFlyers

Heading into Game Two of the 1995 Eastern Conference Final, getting the Legion of Doom line untracked after being held quiet in the series opener was one of the Philadelphia Flyers' biggest keys to knotting the series against the New Jersey Devils. That objective was met, but the Flyers nevertheless went down to 5-2 loss at the Spectrum to fall behind two games to zero.

Flyers captain Eric Lindros got the Flyers on the board first. After a Randy McKay power play goal evened the game at 1-1, Mikael Renberg restored the one-goal lead less than two minutes later as the home crowd went wild.

Unfortunately for the Flyers, the night went downhill after the fast start. John MacLean notched a power play goal in the final 12 seconds of the opening period to send the teams to intermission tied at 1-1. The second period was disastrous for the Flyers as Neal Broten, Bobby Holik and even low-scoring defensive defenseman Ken Daneyko scored for New Jersey to open up a 5-2 lead.

The Flyers managed just five third period shots and 20 overall against Martin Brodeur and the stifling New Jersey neutral zone trap. Ron Hextall stopped 11 of 16 shots before Dominic Roussel (eight saves on eight shots) came in to finish out the game after the Daneyko goal.


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Flyers Draw Even in Stanley Cup Final: June 4, 2010

by @NHLFlyers

After winning Game Three of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final in overtime, the Philadelphia Flyers made an early statement in Game Four that they were driven to send the series back to Chicago knotted at two games apiece. The message came through loud and clear.

Early tallies by Flyers captain Mike Richards (power play) and Matt Carle gave the Flyers a quick 2-0 lead. Former Flyers forward Patrick Sharp cut the gap to one goal at 18:32 but the red-hot Claude Giroux restored a two-goal margin in the final minute of the opening period to send the Flyers to the dressing room with a 3-0 advantage. The goal was Giroux's 10th of the playoffs.

A scoreless second period followed as goaltender Michael Leighton made 13 of his 31 saves for the game, and Chicago counterpart Antti Niemi countered with 10 of his 26 saves.

At 6:43 of the third period, the scorching Ville Leino notched his seventh goal of the playoffs (fifth in his last seven games) to build a 4-1 lead. The extra insurance proved vital, because Dave Bolland and Brian Campbell soon scored closely spaced back-to-back goals to trim the Flyers lead to 4-3 with 4:10 remaining in regulation. Finally, Jeff Carter iced the win for Philadelphia with an empty net goal.

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Pair of Brind'Amour Goals Not Enough in Game 2 of Final: June 3, 1997

by @NHLFlyers

In need of a Game Two win to knot the 1997 Stanley Cup Final at one game apiece before the scene shifted to Joe Louis Arena, the Philadelphia Flyers did not get the hoped-for fast start against the Detroit Red Wings.

Early goals by Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman forged a 2-0 lead for the Red Wings before the first period reached the halfway point. Undaunted, the Flyers rallied to square the game at 2-2 by the first intermission as Rod Brind'Amour converted penalties on Slava Fetisov and Igor Larionov into power play markers at 17:42 and 18:51. Rookie defenseman Janne Niinimaa assisted on both goals.

The Flyers partisans packing the Wells Fargo Center (then called CoreStates Center) went bonkers when Brind'Amour knotted the game. Unfortunately, a turnover high in the offensive zone by Eric Lindros created a counter-attack for Detroit early in the second period and a Kirk Maltby slap shot from just inside the right point eluded Flyers goalie Garth Snow (24 saves on 28 shots) to restore a 3-2 lead for Detroit just 2:39 into the second period.

Shanahan scored his second goal of the game midway through the third period to secure a 4-2 win for Detroit.

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Giroux Sparks Flyers in Game 3 of Cup Final: June 2, 2010

by @NHLFlyers

Apart from the Philadelphia Flyers run to within two wins of the 2010 Stanley Cup being one of the most exhilarating - but ultimately heartbreaking - segments of franchise history, the playoffs were also a turning point in the career of Flyers' 2006 first-round draft choice Claude Giroux.

It was during the 2010 playoffs that Giroux, in his second pro season, started to blossom into a National Hockey League star. After posting 16 goals and 47 points during the regular season, the 22-year-old Giroux exploded for 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 23 playoff games.

The biggest performance of his young career came in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. Giroux assisted on a second period Scott Hartnell power play goal that forged a 2-1 lead for Philly. After the visiting Blackhawks battled back to a take a 3-2 lead on an early third period tally by Patrick Kane, Giroux and company responded just 20 seconds later. The red-hot Ville Leino notched his sixth goal of the playoffs on a setup from Giroux to knot the game at 3-3.

At 5:59 of overtime, Giroux scored against Chicago goaltender Antti Niemi to secure a 4-3 win for the Flyers and complete a three-point effort. The series deficit was now reduced to two games to one with a chance to draw even in Game Four. 

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Flyers Obtain Draft Pick Later Used on Gostisbehere Selection: June 1, 2011

by @NHLFlyers

In February 2011, the Flyers obtained forward Kris Versteeg in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He spent the remaining 27 games (seven goals, 11 points) with Philadelphia and dressed in all 11 playoff games (one goal, six points) as the Flyers reached the Eastern Conference semifinals.

On June 1, 2011, Versteeg was on the move again. The Flyers traded him to the Florida Panthers in exchange for second-round and third-round picks in the 2012 NHL Draft. The second-rounder was later flipped to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the deal that sent veteran defenseman Pavel Kubina to the Flyers. The Bolts ultimately selected right winger Brian Hart with the pick.

The Flyers kept the third-rounder. The team used it to select Union College defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere with the 78th overall pick. Four years later, "Ghost" became a finalist for the Calder Trophy race for NHL Rookie of the Year.

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'87 Finals Come to a Heartbreaking Conclusion: May 31, 1987

by @NHLFlyers

Battered and besieged by key injuries, written off several times by pundits and rallied by team leaders to play for one another, the 1986-87 Philadelphia Flyers came as close as a team can get to winning hockey's ultimate prize before falling just short of capturing the Stanley Cup. Ultimately, the Flyers ran out of steam and comebacks in Game 7 of the 1987 Stanley Cup Final against the Edmonton Oilers.

In the deciding game in Edmonton, the Flyers' will to win remained strong and they even grabbed an early first-period 1-0 lead on a Murray Craven power play goal. As the game progressed, however, the Oilers began to outskate the Flyers and out-possess the puck as the accumulated fatigue took its toll. Mark Messier tied the game at 1-1 before the opening period was eight minutes old, and the Flyers never led again as they got outshot, 43-26.

Flyers rookie goaltender Ron Hextall almost singlehandedly kept the game tied but the Oilers' otherworldly firepower eventually broke through. Jari Kurri converted a Wayne Gretzky setup to put the Oilers ahead, 2-1, with 5:01 left in the middle frame.

Unlike Game 5 and Game 6, when the Flyers were similarly outplayed but dialed up a game-tying power play goal by Brian Propp and third period game-winner by J.J. Daignault, there were no more comebacks to be drawn from the well by the Flyers. Hextall kept the deficit to one goal for the rest of the second period and most of the third until Glen Anderson added an insurance goal with 2:24 left in the game. The Flyers were outshot 25-14 over the final 40 minutes.

Hextall was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as most valuable player of the playoffs but he would gladly have traded that individual award for the Stanley Cup if he could. Distraught on a somber plane ride back to Philadelphia, the Flyers' spirits were somewhat lifted as they were surprised by a crowd of Flyers' fans who gathered at Philadelphia International Airport to cheer their arrival and hold up signs thanking the valiant team for doing the city and fans proud.

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Flyers Make Blockbuster Three-Way Trade with Oilers and Kings: May 30, 1991

by @NHLFlyers

Looking to re-shape the roster and bolster the blueline, Flyers general manager Russ Farwell completed a blockbuster three-way trade with the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings on May 30, 1991.

On the front end of the deal, the Flyers traded power forward Scott Mellanby, enforcer Craig Berube and young left winger Craig Fisher to the Oilers. In return, the Flyers obtained the NHL rights to Hall of Fame right winger Jari Kurri, received hard-shooting defenseman Corey Foster and reacquired tough guy right winger Dave Brown.

Kurri, who had played in Switzerland during the 1990-91 season, wanted to come back to the NHL specifically to be reunited with his longtime Oilers linemate, Wayne Gretzky. This was the key to the back end of the trade.

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Goals Galore in Game One of 2010 Cup Final: May 29, 2010

by @NHLFlyers

There has only been a single game in Flyers' franchise history that was played on May 29: Game One of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.

The pundits' pre-series predictions of the Final being a cakewalk for the favored Chicago Blackhawks quickly flew out the window. It turned out to be a highly competitive series in five of the six games could have gone either way, and the Philadelphia Flyers prevailed in two of them.

The series opened with a high-scoring battle in Chicago in Game One. Through 40 seesaw minutes, the Flyers led 1-0, trailed 2-1, led 3-2, led 4-3, trailed 5-4, and went to the second intermission tied at 5-5. Beleaguered goaltenders Antti Niemi (27 saves on 32 shots) and Michael Leighton (15 saves on 20 shots) were sometimes left helpless and, other times, beaten on seemingly stoppable shots. 

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