|Gerry Meehan (Buffalo Sabres) |
The rivalry between the Buffalo Sabres and the Philadelphia Flyers seems to go as far back as the teams themselves.
And while most fans point to the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals – a series in which the Flyers claimed their second consecutive championship against Buffalo – as the beginning of a loathsome and arduous relationship; a previous incident between the squads may have been the catalyst for it all.
The year was 1972 and it came down to the final game of the regular season.
The Sabres and Flyers were still both in their infancy; with Philadelphia joining the NHL in 1967 and Buffalo gaining expansion in 1970.
The Broad Street Bullies were hardly in effect yet, but their physical play was rapidly becoming their trademark. The Sabres, in contrast, were the youngest team in the League – with Gerry Meehan at the ripe age of 25 serving as one of their oldest players. Buffalo was searching for an identity in their second season and looking to make a statement.
On April 2, at Memorial Auditorium, they got their wish.
Philadelphia, who had made the playoffs in three of their first four seasons, were hoping to once again gain a postseason berth. They needed a win or a tie in the season finale to surpass the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final seed in the East.
The Flyers jumped out to an early lead with a goal from Bobby Clarke in the first period. Rick Foley then put Philly up 2-0 midway through the second frame.
Less than two minutes later, Gilbert Perreault put the Sabres on the board and cut the lead to 2-1. None other than rookie Rene Robert eventually notched things up at 2-2 with 8:47 gone in the third.
The score remained tied in the waning seconds of regulation, until former Flyer and current Sabres captain Gerry Meehan took a shot from the top of the circle to somehow beat netminder Doug Favell.
Just four seconds remained on the clock.
The final score was 3-2 Buffalo.
Philadelphia lost the tiebreaker to the Penguins who advanced to the 1972 playoffs – it would be the last time in 18 years that the Flyers would miss the postseason.
And while the Sabres did not qualify for the playoffs that year, the atmosphere in The Aud was electric as Milt Ellis announced the game’s three stars:
3. Gil Perreault
2. Rene Robert
1. Gerry Meehan
CLASSIC CLIP OF THE WEEK