On the night of their penultimate game of the 1967-68 regular season, March 30, 1968, the Philadelphia Flyers clinched the NHL's Western Division championship to cap off their first season of existence.
With the Spectrum yet to be reopened after the arena suffered roof damage on March 1, the Flyers hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins at Le Colisée in Quebec City on March 30. The Flyers sustained a 2-0 loss in front of 5,569 fans. A first period goal by Leo Boivin held up until Earl Ingarfield added an empty net goal in the final minute of the game. Pittsburgh goalie Les Binkley record a 23-save shutout. Doug Favell stopped 21 of 22 shots in a losing cause.
Later that night, however, the second place Los Angeles Kings played to a 2-2 road tie against the Oakland Seals. Playing final game of the regular season, Los Angeles gained one point (their 72nd of the season) but remained one point behind the Flyers. That clinched the West for the Flyers and rendered meaningless a rematch against the Penguins in the final game of the season.
When the Flyers learned of the outcome of the Kings game, Ed Snider convened a team celebration in his hotel room in Quebec City. Most of the players were thrilled. Free-spirited goaltender Doug Favell was a little disappointed, however.
"Did we have to clinch now?" Favell griped. "I just took three sleeping pills, and 'The Slime People' is on the Late, Late Movie."
March 30: Through the Years
- 1974: In a preview of the Stanley Cup Final, the Flyers take on and defeat the vaunted Boston Bruins at the Spectrum, 5-3. The difference in the game, which is tied 2-2 after the first period and sees both teams score once in the third stanza is an unanswered two-goal outburst by the Flyers in second period. Philly takes a 4-2 lead on a Bill Flett goal just 22 seconds into the middle frame, followed 50 seconds later by Bobby Clarke's 34th goal of the season (assisted by the Cowboy and by Dave "the Hammer" Schultz). Ross Lonsberry tallies first and third period markers for his 27th and 28th goals of the season, while an early first-period goal by Rick MacLeish (32nd) gets the Flyers off to a quick start. Bernie Parent stops 22 of 25 shots.
- 1975: The defending champion Flyers methodically grind out a 4-1 home win over the Chicago Blackhawks while outshooting the visitors, 32-19. After Bill Barber (33rd goal of the season) and Pit Martin trade off first-period goals, Philly dominates much of the game. Rick MacLeish enjoys a three-point night, including his 36th goal of the season in this nationally televised Sunday afternoon game. Gary Dornhoefer (16th) and Reggie Leach (44th) round out the scoring.
- 1981: In arguably the top performance of his Flyers career, goaltender Rick St. Croix (36 saves on 36 shots) steals one point for the club in a 0-0 road tie with the New York Rangers in a match where Philly gets outplayed significantly in the opening 40 minutes. Steve Baker (26 saves) earns a shutout for the Rangers, seeing his toughest chances in the final period.
- 1985: Bob Froese earns a 30-save shutout and an assist on a first period Ilkka Sinisalo goal (36th of the season) in route to a Flyers' 3-0 home shutout win over the New York Rangers. Mark Howe (18th goal) adds a power play goal on a vicious wrist shot that eludes John Vanbiesbrouck (21 saves). Murray Craven (26th) rounds out the scoring with a second-period even strength tally.
- 1999: Ron Hextall registers a multi-point (two-assist) game; the second time in his Flyers career he had a two-assist game; a franchise single-game record among goaltenders. The Flyers play to a 3-3 home tie with the Carolina Hurricanes. Previously, Hextall had two assists in a 6-5 road win over the New York Islanders on Nov. 29, 1986. Goaltender Mark "Trees" Laforest also accomplished the feat in a 6-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on December 4, 1988.
- 1995: In a preview of the Eastern Conference Final, a bad period proves to be the Flyers' undoing as they yield three early goals in a 4-3 home loss to the eventual Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils. Mikael Renberg gets two goals back (17th and 18th of the season) and Dmitri Yushkevich adds a power play goal to cut deficits of 2-0 and 4-1 to one goal but the Flyers cannot find an equalizer against Martin Brodeur.
- 2013: A 33-save performance by Ilya Bryzalov, who flirts with a shutout for 55 minutes, keys a 3-1 home win over the Boston Bruins. Mike Knuble (4th goal) and Matt Read (8th) build a 2-0 lead through two periods. Ruslan Fedotenko (2nd) seals the win with an empty net goal; starting a personal five-game point streak (three goals, two assists) for the veteran forward.
MARCH 29: FLYERS BIRTHDAY
- Sniping right winger Dennis Ververgaert was born March 30, 1953 in Hamilton, Ontario.