Today in Philadelphia Flyers history: Haller tops Rangers in OT, Leighton blanks Habs a third time

Rick Stewart

Mellanby and McCrimmon shock Oilers in first comeback of many in 1987 Final, Haller downs Rangers quickly in OT, and Leighton posts third series shutout against Montreal

A sometimes-frequent look back at how the Philadelphia Flyers have fared on this day, recalling some of the more memorable moments, achievements, and events that shaped the organization throughout the club's storied history. Some say the organization lives too much in the past, but there is nothing wrong with keeping the memories of great occasions alive and well

The Flyers own a 4-3 record in seven all-time postseason games played on May 22.

1980: Mike Busniuk snapped a 2-2 tie late in the second period and Pete Peeters made 35 saves as the Flyers stayed alive in the Stanley Cup Final with a 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders in Game 5 at the Spectrum. The triumph pulled Philadelphia to a 3-2 series deficit, with Game 6 scheduled for the Nassau Coliseum two days later.

Early on, it looked as though New York would finish Philly off without the need for any further contests. After Andre Dupont took a holding call just past the midway point of the opening stanza, Stefan Persson kept the Isles red-hot power play unit rolling along with a goal just 18 seconds later to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

The Flyers would not go quietly, though, as goals from Bobby Clarke and Rick MacLeish staked them to a 2-1 lead in the first six minutes of the middle frame.

Bryan Trottier tied things up with 3:44 remaining in the second, but Busniuk -- who had notched a goal and an assist in a 6-2 Game 3 loss -- beat Billy Smith less than a minute later to give Philadelphia a 3-2 lead heading into the final period.

MacLeish gave Philly a two-goal lead midway through the third with his second of the night, and rookie Brian Propp made it a 5-2 game while the Flyers skated with a man advantage of their own at 12:33.

Persson brought the Islanders back to 5-3 with yet another power play tally, but Paul Holmgren -- who missed Game 4 due to a knee injury after becoming the first American-born player to ever post a hat trick in a Cup Final contest in Game 2 -- registered his 10th goal of the postseason to cap the scoring with 2:34 remaining.
Holmgren's linemate Kenny Linseman assisted on three Flyers' goals in the win.

1987: Scott Mellanby scored the tying goal and set up Brad McCrimmon's game-winner 17 seconds later as the Flyers overcame an early three-goal deficit by scoring five unanswered goals a stun the Edmonton Oilers 5-3 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at the Spectrum.

With Philadelphia down 2-0 in the series and 3-0 midway through regulation of the third game, it seemed all but certain that Lord Stanley was likely going be awarded to Edmonton in just a couple more days time.

The Oilers scored goals three different ways to grab the 3-0 lead -- Mark Messier shorthanded, Paul Coffey at even strength, and Glenn Anderson on the power play -- and things indeed looked bleak for Philly.

But the Flyers' resiliency during this series has rightfully become the thing of legends. They picked themselves up, shook off their early game shortcomings, and roared back with a vengeance.

It was the Philadelphia man advantage that propelled the club back into the contest. Murray Craven started the comeback after the Oilers were tagged for a too-many-men on the ice minor midway through regulation, and Peter Zezel cut the deficit to a single goal late in the session following an Esa Tikkanen slashing penalty.

Mellanby took a Mark Howe feed as he entered the Edmonton zone along the right wing side and blasted a slap shot past Grant Fuhr to knot the game at three-apiece just 4:37 into the third. With the Spectrum faithful still in a frenzy and the Flyers moving into the Oilers' end on the rush, Mellanby sent a cross-crease pass to Fuhr's right that McCrimmon -- a defensive defenseman who jumped into the play at the right time -- tucked past the surprised netminder to give Philadelphia their first lead of the night 17 ticks of the clock after they'd tied it up.

Rookie goalie Ron Hextall and the Philly defense made sure that lead held up, and Brian Propp hit the empty net with 34 seconds left to take what had appeared like a sure 3-0 Oilers series lead and made it a much more manageable 2-1.

1995: Kevin Haller scored 25 seconds into overtime to offset a Brian Leetch hat trick and lift the Flyers to a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal at the Spectrum. It was the second consecutive contest in which the team fell behind 2-0 but prevailed when a Philadelphia blue liner provided heroics in the extra period, as Eric Desjardins had done the same the previous day in Game 1.

It was the first time in franchise history that the Flyers had managed overtime triumphs on consecutive calendar days in the same series.

Leetch gave the visitors a familiar 2-0 lead in the first with a pair of power play markers, but the Flyers evened things up with second period tallies from Eric Lindros and Dimitri Yushkevich to send the clubs deadlocked into the third.

Mikael Renberg was able to give Philly their first lead of the game 25 ticks into the frame with his first career postseason goal, but Leetch completed the hat trick when he beat Ron Hextall with 8:41 remaining in regulation time.

While most fans had barely gotten settled into their seats before overtime, Renberg sent a pass to Haller at the right circle, and the first-year Flyer snapped a shot past Mike Richter to give Philadelphia a 2-0 series lead.

2010: Claude Giroux scored twice and Michael Leighton posted his third shutout of the series as the Flyers blanked the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 at Bell Centre, taking a commanding 3-1 Eastern Conference Final lead.

Leighton rebounded nicely from a 5-1 Game 3 loss, and was not nearly as busy in this one as he'd been in his previous pair of series whitewashes. He needed to make 28 and 30 saves, respectively, in Games 1 and 2 at the Wachovia Center, but was only called upon to turn away 17 Habs offerings in Game 4.

That total included just one Montreal shot during a middle stanza dominated by Philadelphia, who sent 13 shots on Jaroslav Halak and came away with a 2-0 lead.

The Flyers used a quick transition game to kickstart the sequences that led to both goals. Kimmo Timonen recycled a turnover at center ice and hit Giroux with a full head of steam at the Montreal line. Giroux cut around Josh Gorges on the left wing and went in alone on Halak, where he snapped a short side shot over the goaltender's right shoulder and under the crossbar early in the frame.

Chris Pronger sent Ville Leino in on a breakaway with a great cross-ice stretch pass late in the period, and Leino would make no mistake. He deked going to the backhand to get Halak moving to his left, then tucked a forehand past the netminder's outstretched right pad.

Giroux outworked Jaroslav Spacek along the right wing wall and was able to hit the empty net as he was taken down with just over a minute left to close out the scoring and seal the victory, which left the Flyers within one win of advancing to their first Cup Final since 1997.

The game also marked the return to the lineup of two Philadelphia forwards who had been injured in the first round against the New Jersey Devils. Jeff Carter -- who missed 11 games with a broken foot after a Pronger slap shot hit him in the skate in front of the Devils' cage -- and Ian Laperriere -- who sat out 10 games after sustaining a concussion and brain injury when hit over the right eye by a Paul Martin slap shot -- both came back and contributed to the victory.

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