Accumulated injuries, including a foot condition that eventually ended his career, prevented the Philadelphia Flyers career of Peter Forsberg from being all that it could be. However, when he was able to be in the lineup, Forsberg was still among the elite players in the NHL.
Before a series of groin injuries frequently kept him out of the lineup, Forsberg led the NHL in scoring through Thanksgiving weekend of 2005. However, he saved his best work for the playoffs. Although the Flyers lost in six games to the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Forsberg elevated his game to the point that he was almost the sole reason that the Flyers won two games in a series which the team as a whole was severely outplayed.
The Flyers trailed the series two games to zero as the scene switched from Buffalo to Philadelphia. In Game One, Forsberg's creativity and one of the best goaltending performances of Robert Esche's career keyed a comeback in a game Philadelphia ultimately lost in double overtime. Game Two was a blowout win for the Sabres.
In Game 3, a pair of second period goals by Forsberg gave the Flyers their first lead of the series. He later added a late third-period assist that sealed a 4-2 win after the Sabres had drawn back within a goal. Forsberg was named the game's first star. The best was yet to come.
Two nights later in Game 4, early goals by Buffalo's Thomas Vanek and Danny Briere staked the Sabres to a quick 2-0 lead. Things seemed bleak for the Flyers until Forsberg almost singlehandedly willed Philadelphia to a comeback win.
First came one of the most spectacular individual shifts in Flyers' playoff history. Late in first period, Forsberg carried the puck into the offensive zone, stickhandled around all five Sabres and he encircled the the entire offensive zone all the way back to the left half boards, with multiple Buffalo players still giving futile chase. That left Eric Desjardins wide open at center point. Forsberg feathered a pass out to Desjardins, who measured and blasted a shot past Ryan Miller to cut the gap to 2-1 at 12:13 of the first period.
A quiet Wachovia Center crowd oohed-and-awed while Forsberg led the Sabres on a chase and then erupted in a standing ovation after Desjardins scored. The atmosphere went from anxious to electric.
In the second period, Forsberg scored at the 3:26 mark to tie the game at 2-2. The score remained deadlocked until Peter Nedved put the Flyers ahead, 3-2, early in the third period only for playoff ace Briere to re-tie the game for the Sabres with a power play goal less than three minutes later.
Flyers rookie forward R.J. Umberger restored the lead at 9:51. The Sabres, who outshot Philadelphia 11-8 in the third period, put on a heavy push until the Flyers got a late insurance goal before Miller (28 saves on 33 shots) could be pulled for an extra attacker. The scorer: Peter Forsberg, of course.
The insurance goal proved vital, as Mike Grier tallied a short-handed goal for the Sabres in the final half minute of the game. The goal's only effect was to make the final score 5-4 instead of 5-3. Esche finished with 26 saves on 30 shots.
For the second straight game, Forsberg was named the game's first star. Thanks to his six points (four goals and two assists) in two games, the series returned to Buffalo tied at two games apiece. Unfortunately for the Flyers, Buffalo went on to dominate Games 5 (3-0) and 6 (7-1) to win the series.
April 28: Through the Years
- 1985: The Flyers close out their Stanley Cup quarterfinal series with the New York Islanders with a 1-0 win at the Spectrum in Game Five. Ilkka Sinisalo's early second period tally stands as the only goal for either team. Pelle Lindbergh notches his second shutout of the series, turning back all 25 shots he faces with no margin for error in the one-goal game. Mark Howe, who plays nearly 33 minutes, earns third-star honors.
- 1995: A three-goal outburst in the first period, featuring two tallies and an assist by Rod Brind'Amour and one goal by Eric Lindros, powers the Flyers to a 4-3 road win over the Hartford Whalers. After the Whalers come back to tie at 3-3, Karl Dykhuis pots the game winner with 3:11 left in the third period.
- 2008: The goaltending heroics of Martin Biron (32 saves) enable the Flyers to build a two games to one lead over the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Flyers win, 3-2, despite getting outshot by a 34-14. Young Habs goaltender Carey Price struggles and is replaced by Jaroslav Halak after stopping nine of 12 shots. Scottie Upshall, Mike Richards (shorthanded) and R.J. Umberger score the goals for Philly.
April 28 Flyers Birthday
- A former Flyers captain and the first overall pick in the 1975 NHL Draft, Mel Bridgman was born in Trenton, Ontario on April 28, 1955 and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario and Victoria, British Columbia.