On April 21, 1977, the Flyers closed out a playoff series they once trailed two games to zero with their fourth straight win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Philly eliminated Toronto at Maple Leaf Garden with a 4-3 regulation win at Maple Leaf Gardens in Game Six.
The Flyers trailed, 3-2, in the third period before tallies by Rick MacLeish (fourth of the series) and Jimmy Watson (2:38 left in regulation) won the game and the series for Philadelphia. Earlier, Philly erased deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 on tallies by Bobby Clarke and Bob Dailey (second goal of the series, three-point game). Winning goaltender Wayne Stephenson turned back 21 of 24 shots. Wayne Thomas (26 saves on 30 shots) took the loss for Toronto.
Amongst themselves, many Philadelphia players privately dedicated the win to ailing 37-year-old assistant coach (and former teammate) Barry Ashbee, who had recently been diagnosed with leukemia. Ashbee, who did not want the team to be distracted by his condition, vehemently downplayed it and discouraged the team leaders from turning it into "a 'win one for the Gipper' situation." The players respected his wishes but Ashbee was nevertheless very much of their minds throughout the series.
Barry Ashbee passed away on May 2, 1977. Flyers captain Bobby Clarke delivered the eulogy at his funeral.
April 21: Through the Years
- 1985: The Flyers grab a two games to zero lead in the Patrick Division Finals as they defeat the New York Islanders at the Spectrum, 5-2. Brian Propp steals the show with a hat trick, while Tim Kerr (one goal, three assists) enjoys a four-point game. Pelle Lindbergh, who shut out the Isles in the first game, earns second-star honors with an excellent 26-save performance in Game Two.
- 1997: The Flyers grab a three games to zero stranglehold on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals as Philly earns a 5-3 win. Philly overcomes the frustration of outshooting the Pens by a 28-11 margin in the first period alone but going to the first intermission trailing 2-1 after Jaromir Jagr sandwiches a pair of goals around one by Legion of Doom right winger Mikael Renberg (three-point game). The Flyers finally break through against Ken Wregget for three unanswered goals in the second period -- Pat Falloon, Eric Lindros, John LeClair -- and later get an empty-netter by rookie Vaclav Prospal.
- 2003: In the third game to reach double overtime in one of the most epic playoff series wars in modern NHL annals, the Toronto Maple Leafs force a seventh and deciding game in Philadelphia with a 3-2 double OT victory in home ice. Off a rebound in front, Travis Green scores the game winner on Roman Cechmanek (34 saves) at 10:15 of the second overtime. Robert Reichel (10:35 of the first period) and Jeremy Roenick (15:23 of the second period on a glove-side slapshot from the faceoff dot) trade the lone regulation goals. Later in the second period, Cechmanek stones Reichel on a penalty shot attempt as Reichel tried to surprise his countryman with a slap shot from the hash marks. Ed Belfour stops 33 of 34 shots for Toronto.
April 21: Flyers Birthdays
- The late Reg "the Ruffian" Fleming was born April 20, 1936 in Montreal.
- Center/right wing Vincent Lecavalier was born April 21, 1980 in Ile Bizard, Quebec.
- Defenseman Stewart Malgunas was born in Prince George, British Columbia on April 21, 1970.
- Aggressive checking forward Roman Vopat was born on April 21, 1976 in Litvinov, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic).