The 1976 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals between the Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs was one of the most physical and vicious playoff series in Flyers franchise history. The home team won every game of the series, which made the Flyers' home-ice advantage all the more valuable.
Animosity ran at a fever pitch during the series, especially in Game 3 and 6 at Maple Leaf Gardens. Attention-seeking Toronto attorney general Roy McMurty pressed criminal charges against the Flyers' Don Saleski, Joe Watson and Mel Bridgman. Bob Kelly was later "honored" with an indictment by McMurty after Game 6.
The Flyers ended the series with an exclamation point in Game 7 to finish off a series in which Toronto played much more meekly at the Spectrum than they did in their home rink. The Flyers skated to a 7-3 blowout win. In the four games at the Spectrum, Toronto got outscored by a 21-6 margin.
Trailing 2-1 at the first intermission, the Flyers exploded for five unanswered goals in the second period, including a pair by rookie center Bridgman. Andre "Moose" Dupont (power play), Saleski, Ross Lonsberry (power play), Reggie Leach and Bill Barber (power play) also scored by the end of the game as the Flyers outshot the Maple Leafs by a 43-24 margin. Bernie Parent made 21 saves.
NHL commissioner Clarence Campbell, who had a legal background and frequently clashed with the Flyers, spoke out against the series of criminal charges, saying the Philadelphia players had merely acted to protect themselves from rampaging fans in the stands while, in Bridgman's case, it was a routine, if one-sided on-ice fight with Borje Salming. The charges against Bridgman and Saleski were eventually dropped, while Watson paid a $750 fine and Kelly paid a $250 fine.
April 25: Through the Years
- 1978: Closing out the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals in five games, the Flyers earn a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres at the Spectrum. Bobby Clarke puts the Flyers ahead in the opening period, hustling to a loose puck to beat Don Edwards for a power play goal. After the Sabres tie the game midway through regulation, goals by Paul Holmgren, Ross Lonsberry and Don Saleski put the Flyers ahead to stay. Bernie Parent (26 saves) slams the door on a late Buffalo push to earn first-star honors.
- 1996: The Flyers grab a three games to two lead in their fight-filled Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with the Tampa Bay Lightning, capturing a 4-1 win at the Spectrum. Mikael Renberg, Shjon Podein, Pat Falloon and John LeClair score the goals. The Flyers survive a nine-minute shorthanded situation in the third period after Shawn Antoski received a match penalty and series of other penalties for allegedly attempting to kick a Tampa player in a scrum. Ron Hextall (23 saves) flirts with a shutout until John Cullen scores an otherwise meaningless goal with 2:01 left in the game.
- 2004: The Flyers earn a 2-1 home win over the Toronto Maple Leafs to the take a two games to zero lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Alexei Zhamnov scores the game-winner midway through the third period after tough guys Donald Brashear and Tie Domi trade off goals for their respective teams in the first and second periods. Robert Esche stops stops 26 of 27 shots. The Flyers power play goes 2-for-4 and the penalty kill goes 5-for-5.
- 2013: Oliver Lauridsen's scorching point shot blast at 13:29 of the third period proves to be the game winner in a 2-1 regulation home victory over the New York Islanders. In the first period, Danny Briere (power play) scores what proves to be the final goal of his Flyers career.
- 2014: The Flyers knot their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with the New York Rangers at two games apiece. Steve Mason plays brilliantly in goal, stopping 37 of 38 Rangers shots. After Matt Read replies to an early goal by New York's Dominic Moore, Jakub Voracek nets the game-winner with a second-period power play goal.