Ranking the 5 Most Important Overtime Goals in Philadelphia Flyers History
There is nothing more exciting in the game of hockey than scoring a big goal in overtime to win a playoff game. The Philadelphia Flyers has scored many big overtime goals since entering the NHL in 1967, but now we are going to look back at the top five overtime game-winning goals in franchise history.
To qualify for this list, the goal has to take place in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Regular-season overtime contests are exciting, but they can't match the drama and significance of a postseason game.
The bigger the game, the more weight is given to it on this list. A series-clinching goal or a tally in a Stanley Cup Final game will have more significance than Game 1 of an opening-round matchup.
In addition, the goal's impact on the Flyers both at the time and in historical context will be taken into account.
Feel free to comment on any of these goals or to mention a moment you feel belongs on this list but was omitted. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.
5. Gary Dornhoefer; April 10, 1973; Quarterfinal vs. Minnesota
The Flyers were in their sixth NHL season in 1972-73. They had qualified for the postseason three times before but had yet to win a playoff series. Gary Dornhoefer's overtime goal in Game 5 of the 1973 quarterfinal against the Minnesota North Stars helped change that.
With the series all even at 2-2, the Flyers hosted Game 5 at the Spectrum on April 10, 1973.
Rick MacLeish had scored twice to give Philadelphia a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes, but Minnesota forward Bill Goldsworthy scored with seven minutes left in regulation time and the game headed to overtime all even at 2-2.
The North Stars outshot the Flyers 5-3 through the first eight-plus minutes of overtime, but goalie Doug Favell kept Minnesota off the board.
Then, Dornhoefer ended the game with a spectacular goal at 8:35. He made an end-to-end rush skating past Goldsworthy and then defenseman Barry Gibbs. As he cut toward the front of the net, the veteran Flyers forward switched the puck from his forehand to his backhand and beat goalie Cesare Maniago just before defenseman Tom Reid came to move him out of the slot.
Dornhoefer's goal set off a wild celebration in the Spectrum with the goal scorer himself raising his arms in a triumphant pose.
“I don’t even know how I scored," Dornhoefer told The Philadelphia Bulletin after the game (as reported by Bill Meltzer on the Flyers' official Web site). "I just remember getting the puck at center ice, and fortunately it stayed right with me. You could try that play again a hundred times and it wouldn’t work.”
The Flyers held a 3-2 series lead and closed things out in Game 6 in Minnesota with a 4-1 win just two days later. For the first time in franchise history, the Flyers had won a playoff series.
Just one year later, the Flyers were champions. Dornhoefer was a big part of both Philadelphia Stanley Cup wins.
The goal was so significant and Dornhoefer's reaction so memorable, it was immortalized in a statue that was erected outside the Spectrum.
This goal was the moment the Flyers arrived and announced to the rest of the NHL they would soon be a force to be reckoned with. Gary Dornhoefer was the messenger.
4. Joffrey Lupul; April 22, 2008; Conference Semifinal at Washington
The Flyers led the series 3-1 before the Capitals evened the series and forced a seventh game in Washington.
Sami Kapanen gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead in the second period, but a goal by Alex Ovechkin late in the same period tied the game. The two clubs headed to overtime after a scoreless third period. Philadelphia goalie Martin Biron made 16 saves in the final 20 minutes of regulation to keep the Flyers in the game.
Lupul ended the game 6:06 into overtime on a power-play goal. He pounced on the rebound of a shot by Kimmo Timonen and beat Washington goalie Cristobal Huet on a backhander that ended the series and sent the Flyers into a second-round playoff matchup with the Montreal Canadiens.
Lupul couldn't believe it after he scored the series-winning goal.
"You're on a power play, the puck goes to the net, you end up banging it in, and 20 guys are ramming you into the boards," Lupul told The Associated Press (as reported on NHL.com) after the game. "I'm still catching my breath right now. I'm sure it'll sink in here in the next couple of hours."
This win was the start of a run to the Eastern Conference Final for the Flyers and gave Lupul a permanent place in Flyers history.
3. Jeremy Roenick; May 4, 2004; Conference Semifinal at Toronto
Jeremy Roenick had many fine moments in his NHL career, but one of his best came in Game 6 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Roenick scored at 7:39 of overtime to propel the Flyers past the Leafs and into the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Flyers held a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes on goals by Radovan Somik and Roenik, but Toronto tied the game in the third period on a goal by Karel Pilar midway through the period and a tally by Mats Sundin with 4:52 left in regulation.
Roenick scored the winner on a two-on-one breakaway. He used teammate Tony Amonte as a decoy and beat Toronto goalie Eddie Belfour on the short side from about 15 feet out.
Roenick admitted he went against his usual tendencies on this play.
"People tell me to shoot, shoot, shoot,'' he told The Associated Press (via NHL.com). "Every time I get into a position like that I pass. I wasn't passing tonight."
He made the right choice, and the Flyers were winners.
2. Keith Primeau; May 4, 2000; Conference Semifinal at Pittsburgh
It was the third-longest game in NHL history, a marathon between two cross-state rivals that was a true test of endurance and desire. After 152 minutes of hockey, Flyers center Keith Primeau finally scored at 12:01 of the fifth overtime to give Philadelphia a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins and to even the series at 2-2.
Since this was the "Dead Puck Era," goals were hard to come by. Pittsburgh goalie Ron Tugnutt made 70 saves in a losing effort, while Philadelphia's Brian Boucher made 57 stops. Both goalies were dazzling in the overtime sessions that often felt like they would never end.
Primeau finally finished the marathon nearly seven hours after the game started. He skated down the right wing and beat Tugnutt with a wrist shot from the right circle that went in high, over his shoulder.
"As the game went on I honestly started to feel better," Primeau told Hockey Night in Canada as reported by the CBC. "There was a lot more room in the neutral zone and I just wanted to try and capitalize."
"Primeau made a good move, made a good shot," Tugnutt admitted.
It was the second straight overtime win for the Flyers in the series. While the Penguins said they'd be back, they lost the next two games and the Flyers advanced to the Eastern Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils.
Meanwhile, those fans who were able to stay awake were treated to a classic that was the longest NHL game played since 1933.
1. Bobby Clarke; May 9, 1974; Stanley Cup Final Game 2 at Boston
The status of the Philadelphia Flyers changed forever on May 9, 1974. That day, Bobby Clarke's overtime goal against the Boston Bruins evened the series at 1-1 and proved to an expansion team that it belonged on the ice with an Original Six club that featured all-time greats like Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr.
The Bruins had won Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final 3-2 at the Boston Garden and seemed to be in control of the series. The Flyers were 0-17-2 in their last 19 games in Boston and were a bit intimidated by their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Bruins took a 2-0 lead in Game 2, but Clarke scored one goal in the second period and set up another by Andre "Moose" Dupont with just 52 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.
Clarke ended the game himself on a rebound at 12:01 of overtime when he put a rebound past Boston goalie Gilles Gilbert.
After that victory, the Flyers believed. Ten days later, the Flyers clinched the series at the Spectrum to become the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup.