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Dramatic Game 6 Comeback Takes '87 Cup Final to Limit: May 28, 1987

by @NHLFlyers

Game Six of the 1987 Finals would go down as one of the crowning achievements in Flyers history. The Edmonton Oilers dominated most of the play, but the Philadelphia Flyers simply refused to die, and earned a second straight comeback victory to force a deciding game in Edmonton after the Oilers had once led the series, three games One.

Early in the first period of Game Six at the Spectrum, a disputed Kevin Lowe shorthanded goal on a clearly kicked puck was allowed to stand. On the play, Mark Howe made a rare defensive mistake and was beaten badly by Gretzky. Later, a clean faceoff win by Craig MacTavish against Murray Craven led to a Kevin McClelland goal.

In the second period, Edmonton controlled the vast majority of play. Goalie Ron Hextall kept the game manageable and the Flyers' fourth line gave the team a huge lift. Dave Brown slid a nifty pass between the legs of All-Star defenseman Lowe and Lindsay Carson converted for his third goal of the playoffs. The Flyers trailed 2-1 after the second stanza, despite being outshot 24 to 13.

The Flyers' power play had done precious little all game long, but finally broke through in the third period. At the 13:04 mark, Brian Propp found open space in the slot, took a feed from Eklund and ripped a perfect shot upstairs over Grant Fuhr to tie the game. The Spectrum crowd roared with a deafening ovation.

Two shifts later, seldom-used young Flyers defenseman J.J. Daigneault stepped into the limelight for one of the most famous goals in team history. Jumping off of the bench, he gained the blue line just in time to collect a failed clearing attempt by Kurri, and ripped the puck past Fuhr as utter bedlam ensued in the Spectrum. 

Replays showed that Scott Mellanby screened Fuhr and may even have deflected the puck. However, the goal forever stands credited to Daigneault.

"If Scotty scored it, he'd be the last one to tell you," Poulin said years later, a big smile crossing his face.

The Flyers protected the lead successfully, but there was a near catastrophe in the final 10 seconds. Hextall came out of his net and tried to clear the puck up the middle. Messier intercepted the flip and, with the goalie caught, moved in for a scoring chance. Miraculously, Hextall recovered in time. The crowd and the players on the Flyers bench gasped in unison and breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Although Philadelphia would go on to lose Game Seven in Edmonton, the 1987 playoff run still stands as one of the most memorable and thrilling achievements in the history of the franchise.


May 27 in Flyers History

1985: The Flyers sustained an extremely costly 5-3 road loss in Edmonton in Game Four of the 1985 Stanley Cup Final to trail three games to one in the series. In addition to losing the game, the Flyers lost superstar goaltender Pelle Lindbergh to torn quadriceps. The Flyers led 3-1 midway through the first period on goals by Rich Sutter, Todd Bergen (power play) and Murray Craven (shorthanded) and still held a one-goal lead at the first intermission. Two goals by Wayne Gretzky and a three-point (one goal, two assists) night for Oilers defenseman Paul Coffey enabled the Oilers to catch and then surpass the Flyers. Instead of being tied at two games apiece and guaranteed to bring the series back to Philadelphia in a 2-3-2 formatted series, the Flyers now started at elimination without the NHL's top goaltender to backstop them for the remainder of the series.

2003: The Flyers traded goaltender Roman Cechmanek to the Los Angeles Kings. In exchange Philly received a 2004 second-round draft choice. The pick was later dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks in the deal that brought Alexei Zhamnov, an impending free agent, to Philadelphia as a valuable rental during the 2004 stretch drive and playoffs. Chicago used the pick originally belonging to LA on the selection of forward Bryan Bickell.


May 28: Flyers birthdays

Hall of Fame defenseman Mark Howe was born May 28, 1955.

Checking center and future longtime NHL coach Terry Crisp was born May 28, 1943.

Early 1980s defenseman Reid Bailey was born May 28, 1956.

Backup goaltender Gary "Inch" Inness was born May 28, 1949.


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