Ranking the Most Exciting Game 7s in Philadelphia Flyers' History
The Philadelphia Flyers have a very rich playoff history dating back to their early days in the NHL. With the playoffs coming up, it's the perfect time to take a look back at the most exciting Game 7s in Flyers' playoff history.
Obviously, these games are from the Flyers' point of view, so all of the top five are games the Flyers won. Games are rated on the excitement of the individual game, the historical context and importance of the game in Flyers and NHL history.
Only Game 7s are included here. A deciding game in a best-of-five or best-of-three series is not eligible.
Feel free to comment on any of these games or mention a playoff Game 7 that did not make the list that you feel belongs. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.
5. May 13, 1975: Semifinals vs. New York Islanders
The Philadelphia Flyers were the defending Stanley Cup champions in 1975, but they almost ran into a team of destiny in the semifinals when they faced the upstart New York Islanders.
The Islanders became only the second team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 deficit and win a playoff series when they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the quarterfinals. More amazingly, the Isles were only in their third season of existence and were making their first playoff appearance in team history.
The Flyers took a 3-0 series lead against the Islanders only to see the third-year expansion team come back and win the next three games to force a deciding contest at the Spectrum.
The Flyers called out their big gun and invited Kate Smith to sing "God Bless America" live before the game. It paid off handsomely and quickly.
Gary Dornhoefer scored on Chico Resch just 19 seconds into the game to put the Flyers ahead 1-0. Then, with Gerry Hart in the penalty box, Rick MacLeish scored a power play goal at 2:27 to increase the Philadelphia lead to 2-0.
The Islanders got back into the game on a power-play goal by Jude Drouin, but MacLeish tallied again on the power play at 7:11 mark in the first period to make the score 3-1 Flyers.
The Flyers played excellent defense for the game, holding the Islanders to just 15 shots on net for the entire game. Bernie Parent stopped 14 of them.
MacLeish completed the hat trick and clinched the win for the Flyers when he scored with 1:08 left in the game. The Flyers had averted becoming the Islanders' second straight miracle comeback and were headed to their second straight Stanley Cup Final to face the Buffalo Sabres.
4. April 29, 1989: Patrick Division Finals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
The Flyers met their cross-state rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time ever in the playoffs in 1989.
Pittsburgh took a 3-2 series lead, but the Flyers won Game 6 at the Spectrum, 6-2, to force a deciding seventh game at the Igloo in Pittsburgh.
The game got off to a physical start as the rivalry heated up. Mario Lemieux and Paul Coffey were called for roughing penalties midway through the first period when they scrapped with Rick Tocchet.
Brian Propp opened the scoring for Philadelphia at the 17:41 mark of the opening period.
After a second period goal by Lemieux tied the game, Dave Poulin scored a short-handed goal to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead with 6:47 left in the second period.
The Flyers increased their lead to 3-1 on a power-play goal by Mike Bullard.
Goalie Ken Wregget made 39 saves to earn the win and the Flyers managed to kill off seven of the eight Pittsburgh power plays.
An empty-net goal by Scott Mellanby with 28 seconds left clinched the win and the series for the Flyers who advanced to the Eastern Conference Final against the Montreal Canadiens.
3. May 5, 1974: Semifinals vs. New York Rangers
The Flyers made history in 1974 when they defeated the New York Rangers to became the first expansion team to win a playoff series from an Original Six club.
Prior to that, the established clubs had won all 11 playoff series they played against the expansion clubs including sweeping all three Stanley Cup Final meetings from 1968-1970. The competition got so one-sided that the league changed the rules to allow two Original Six teams to meet in the Final after 1970.
Game 7 was played at the Spectrum before a capacity crowd of fans who wanted to believe their team could pull off the victory.
Dave Schultz set the tone in the first period when he demolished Rangers defenseman Dale Rolfe in a fight. "The Hammer" bloodied Rolfe but no Rangers player came to their teammates' aide and the Flyers felt that took some of the fight out of their opponents.
Gary Dornhoefer scored twice while Rick MacLeish added a goal and an assist for the Flyers. They would take a 4-2 lead with just under 11 minutes left in the game on Dornhoefer's second goal of the game.
Pete Stemkowski pulled the Rangers to within a goal with 5:26 left in regulation, but Bernie Parent would not allow the tying goal to get behind him. The future Hall of Fame goalie made 13 saves in the third period to clinch the win for the Flyers.
Suddenly, the hockey world had to take the Flyers and the rest of the expansion teams seriously. The Flyers went on to beat the Boston Bruins to win their first Stanley Cup in the following series.
2. April 22, 2008: Conference Quarterfinals vs. Washington Capitals
Game 7s are always exciting, but overtimes in a deciding game is the ultimate nerve-racking experience for players and fans.
In 2008, the Flyers and Washington Capitals went to overtime in Game 7 of their opening-round series. The game was played in Washington where 18,277 fans waited to see which team would advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The teams traded power-play goals in the first period with Nicklas Backstrom scoring first for Washington before Scottie Upshall answered nearly 10 minutes later for the Flyers.
Sami Kapanen gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead in the second period, but Alex Ovechkin answered for the Capitals and the game was even at 2-2 after 40 minutes.
Washington dominated the third period, outshooting Philadelphia 16-5, but goalie Martin Biron turned aside every chance and helped the Flyers force overtime.
Caps' defenseman Tom Poti was called for tripping early in the extra session and the Flyers took full advantage. Joffrey Lupul scored his first goal of the series at the 6:06 mark in overtime and the Flyers had eliminated the Southeast Division champions.
1. May 14, 2010: Conference Semifinals vs. Boston Bruins
The Flyers made NHL history when they overcame a 3-0 series deficit and defeated the Boston Bruins in seven games to win their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
That made the Flyers the first team in 35 years—and only the third team of all-time—to win a best-of-seven playoff series after losing the first three games.
What made this victory even more impressive was the comeback within the comeback. In addition to winning the final four games of the series, the Flyers overcame a 3-0 lead in Game 7 to win the deciding contest, 4-3.
Milan Lucic scored his second goal of the game at 14:10 of the first period to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead in the game. It seemed the game and the series were over. But somebody forgot to tell the Flyers.
James van Riemsdyk scored with 2:48 left in the first period to get the Flyers on the scoreboard.
Then, second period goals by Scott Hartnell and Daniel Briere tied the game at 3-3 after 40 minutes.
After the Bruins were called for too many men on the ice midway through the third period, the Flyers took advantage of the opportunity. Simon Gagne scored at 12:52 of the third period to give the Flyers a 4-3 lead.
The Flyers defense clamped down and goalie Michael Leighton had to make only five saves in the third period to clinch the win and complete the comeback.
The Flyers continued their run all the way to the Stanley Cup Final that year before falling in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks.