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Ranking the 5 Most Heartbreaking Losses in Philadelphia Flyers History

Dan FremuthContributor IIINovember 18, 2013

Ranking the 5 Most Heartbreaking Losses in Philadelphia Flyers History

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The Philadelphia Flyers entered the National Hockey League in the Fall of 1967 and claimed the league's ultimate prize just over seven years later.

    The Orange and Black in fact earned a pair of Stanley Cup championships in their first eight seasons claiming back-to-back postseason triumphs in 1974 and 1975.

    But the Flyers have failed to win the season's final game in 37 seasons since and have endured plenty of painful defeats along the way.

    Here's a look at the five most heartbreaking losses in the history of the Philadelphia Flyers.

5. 1980 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 6 vs. New York Islanders

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    Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    In 1980, the Flyers were back in the Stanley Cup finals for the fourth time in seven seasons.

    After playoff series victories over the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia found itself face-to-face with the upstart New York Islanders who had reached the finals for the first time in franchise history.

    The Islanders jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the series before the Orange and Black earned a convincing 6-3 win at home in Game 5.

    But New York would claim its first of four straight Stanley Cup championships with a Game 6 overtime victory back on Long Island.

    The deciding game was marred by a controversial goal when the Islanders' Butch Goring picked up a drop pass from Clark Gillies which had clearly gone back over the Flyers' defensive zone blue line back to center ice before resulting in a 2-1 New York lead.

    The series-clinching goal eventually came off the stick of Bobby Nystrom in overtime, sending the Flyers to their second Stanley Cup setback in a five-year period.

4. 2000 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 7 vs. New Jersey Devils

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    M. David Leeds/Getty Images

    In 2000, the Flyers were back in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in three years and were looking to return to the Stanley Cup finals for just the third time in 13 years.

    But a promising 3-1 lead in the series quickly turned to anxiety for the Philly faithful after the New Jersey Devils earned a 4-1 victory in Game 5 in the City of Brotherly Love before returning home to capture a 2-1 series-tying triumph.

    Still, the Flyers were returning home for decisive Game 7 and would have the services of rugged power forward Eric Lindros, who returned for Game 6 after missing the entirety of the postseason up to that point with a concussion.

    For anyone familiar with Philadelphia sports, the rest is history.

    Lindros didn't even make it eight minutes deep into the series' final contest before Devils captain Scott Stevens landed a clean shoulder into Lindros' jaw as he was cruising into the New Jersey zone. The Big E didn't return, and that would prove to be the final image of his professional career in Philadelphia.

    Rick Tocchet landed a game-tying power play conversion early in the second period, but the Devils would land the series' final strike when Patrick Elias connected with just over two and a half minutes left in regulation.

3. 2004 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 7 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Back in the Conference Finals for the first time since 2000, the Flyers were pitted against a Tampa Bay Lightning squad who had reached the postseason's third round for the first time in franchise history.

    The two sides alternated victories through the first four games before the Lightning moved to within one game of the Stanley Cup finals with a 4-2 doubling up of Philadelphia in Tampa.

    Trailing late in the third period at home in Game 6, the Flyers' season appeared all but over until Keith Primeau evened the game at four apiece with a wrap around inside the right post. Simon Gagne completed the improbable comeback with the winner in overtime pushing the city of Philadelphia into a frenzy and the Eastern Conference finals to its limit.

    But Philadelphia's momentum ended there.

    The Lightning returned home for Game 7 and responded with a 2-1 regulation victory over the Orange and Black. Ruslan Fedotenko and Fredrik Modin both scored for Tampa Bay while Kim Johnsson landed the lone marker for the Flyers.

2. 1987 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 7 vs. Edmonton Oilers

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    Denis Brodeur/Getty Images

    The Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup five times in a seven-year window from 1984 to 1990.

    The only team to ever push them beyond five games in the finals was the Flyers in 1987.

    The Oilers claimed the first two games in Edmonton and were poised to dispatch of the Orange and Black in just five games before Philadelphia earned gutsy, back-to-back one-goal victories. First, the Flyers claimed a 4-3 win in Edmonton in Game 5 before outlasting the Oilers 3-2 back in Philadelphia in Game 6.

    Edmonton had already claimed the Stanley Cup at the expense of the Orange and Black just two years earlier, and it appeared the stage was now set for the Flyers to return the favor.

    But the juggernaut that was the Oilers of the 1980s was simply too much to overcome.

    In Game 7, the Flyers scored the game's first goal for the first time in the series but Mark Messier converted a three-on-one for the equalizer and Jari Kurri buried the eventual winner.

    The Oilers flexed their muscles at home, outshooting Philadelphia 25-8 over the game's final forty minutes.

1. 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 6 vs. Chicago Blackhawks

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The only thing worse than losing in the Stanley Cup finals is losing in the Stanley Cup finals at home.

    But that was the scene on June 9, 2010, when Patrick Kane dashed the Flyers' hopes in front of the Philadelphia faithful at Wachovia Center.

    Back in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since being swept by the Detroit Red Wings in 1997, the Flyers founds themselves in an early 0-2 hole to Chicago but evened the series with a pair of victories in Philadelphia. Claude Giroux scored the overtime winner in Game 3, while five different Flyers converted in a 5-3 Game 4 triumph.

    But the Blackhawks claimed the next two outings, including a dramatic 4-3 overtime victory in Philadelphia, to earn their first Stanley Cup championship in nearly 50 years.

    Not only did the contest thwart the Flyers' efforts for their first championship since 1975, but it ended in one of the more anticlimactic manners in which a championship-deciding game can end.

    Kane scored on a sharp angle opportunity from just above the left goal line, but he was virtually the only one who knew it. Even his teammates continued to play for several seconds after Kane had shed his gear and made a mad dash for goaltender Antti Niemi. The goal was reviewed and eventually confirmed as the cup-clinching tally.

    In the end, Flyers' fans saw the Stanley Cup that evening. Just not in the hands of anyone wearing orange and black.

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