The 1974 Stanley Cup Semifinal series between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers was a seven-game roller coaster ride of emotions, attrition and ferocity on the ice. It marked a changing of the times of sorts in the NHL as the Flyers, for the first time in franchise history, knocked off one of the six pre-expansion old guard teams in the playoffs.
The series saw the home side win every game of the series; luckily, the Flyers held the home-ice advantage at the Spectrum for Game Seven. Through the first six games alone, the two teams combined for 368 penalty minutes. During the series, Philadelphia lost heart-and-soul defenseman Barry Ashbee to a career-ending eye injury and energy winger Bob "the Hound" Kelly to a season-ending knee injury.
A capacity crowd of 17,007 packed the Spectrum for Game Seven, and it didn't take long for the sticks and elbows to come up after the opening faceoff. The game was tied, 1-1, after the first period. Philadelphia took a 3-1 lead in the middle frame. New York made a final desperation push in the third period, outshooting the Flyers by a 15-9 mark, but Philly went on to win, 4-3.
Gary Dornhoefer's point-blank goal from the right slot off a Ross Lonsberry centering pass at 9:01 of the third period - his second tally of the match and fifth of the postseason- proved to the game-winner and series-winner. Rick MacLeish (power play, 11th goal of the playoffs) and Orest Kindrachuk (third) also scored for the Flyers.
To some, the series was symbolically over at 11:55 of the still-scoreless first period. A scrum in the New York zone escalated after the whistle. Dave "the Hammer" Schultz pummeled Rangers' defenseman Dale Rolfe in a one-sided fight. None of the Rangers players attempted to come to their teammate's defense; something unlikely to happen with the tight-knit Flyers if the roles had been reversed.
In the series' final battle between Hall of Fame goaltenders, eventual Conn Smythe Trophy winner Bernie Parent stopped 31 of 34 shots while Eddie Giacomin turns back 42 of 46 Philadelphia shots.
With the victory, the Flyers earned the right to play the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final; the Flyers' first of eight trips to the NHL's ultimate stage.