An almost-daily column that takes a 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
As the Flyers head to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre tonight, they have managed a 9-4-3-0 mark -- which includes a 7-1-3-0 mark at home (with the loss coming in their last home game on this day in 2010) -- in 16 total December 20 outings over the course of franchise history.
Some of the more memorable moments and brief recaps in Flyers history that took place on December 20:
1973 -- Bobby Clarke, Bill Clement, and Ross Lonsberry each scored a pair of goals and Bernie Parent stopped 23 of the 26 shots he faced to lead the Flyers to a 9-3 demolition of the Vancouver Canucks at the Spectrum.
11 different Philadelphia skaters posted multiple points, led by Clement's three on two goals and an assist.
Bob Kelly -- who was assessed a fighting major during a second period melee -- scored a goal early in the third and assisted on Clement's second of the contest to complete the Gordie Howe hat trick.
Future-Flyer defenseman Bob Dailey scored two of the three Vancouver goals.
Parent won his second straight game and 18th of the season, while Jacques Caron was shelled for all nine goals on 39 Flyers' shots.
1979 -- Behn Wilson deflected a Dennis Ververgaert shot past netminder Greg Millen for the game-tying power play goal with 4:08 remaining in regulation to keep the Flyers unbeaten streak alive at 28 -- tying the NHL record for the longest undefeated stretch -- in a 1-1 draw with the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Spectrum.
Trailing 1-0 on a first period Ron Stackhouse man advantage tally, Millen had thoroughly frustrated Philadelphia all night as they attempted to knot the score. The Orange-and-Black dominated the final period to the tune of a 16-6 shots advantage, but the second-year goalie kept them off the board into the latter stages of regulation time.
With time waning and the shot to rewrite the history books slowly fading away, Pittsburgh defender Bob Stewart was whistled for a hooking minor at 15:21. The Flyers got the chance they were waiting for with the first power play opportunity of the third stanza, and took full advantage with Wilson's game-tying goal.
Rookie goalie Pete Peeters turned away 22 of 23 Penguins' shots, running his record to 12-0-3 for the season.
Wilson's goal enabled Philly to tie the 1977/78 Montreal Canadiens record of 28 consecutive contests without a loss, giving the club a 19-0-9 mark during the span.
The Flyers would now head to Boston to play a Bruins club in which they had a collective 14-37-9 record against (regular season and playoffs) -- including a horrific 0-23-4 mark from 1969 into 1974, and a 4-20-6 all-time record at Boston Garden -- as they continued their pursuit of history.
1980 -- Reggie Leach scored twice as the Flyers erased a 2-0 second period deficit to defeat the Washington Capitals, 5-2, at the Cap Center in Landover, Maryland.
Trailing 2-0 at the first intermission on goals from future-Philadelphia property Tim Tookey (his first NHL goal) and former-Flyer Bob Kelly, Philly turned it on in a second period in which they outshot Washington, 20-7, and scored three unanswered goals.
Bob Dailey beat Mike Palmateer to get the Flyers on the board early in the middle frame, and the visitors took the lead on goals from Leach and Tim Kerr within a 28-second span late in the stanza.
Tom Gorence and Leach (shorthanded) provided third period insurance markers as Philadelphia continued to carry play, outshooting the Capitals by a 32-10 margin over the final two sessions.
Pete Peeters stopped 21 of 23 shots to extend his unbeaten streak to five contests (3-0-2), and improve his record to 12-2-2 on the year.
1981 -- Ron Flockhart snapped a 1-1 tie with 2:15 left in regulation, while Pete Peeters turned aside 24 at the other end of the ice as the Flyers skated to a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Spectrum. It was Philadelphia's third consecutive win and their eighth in the last nine outings.
Reggie Leach scored in the first period, and Bill Barber added an empty-netter to seal the win.
Future-Flyer Mike Bullard posted the lone Pittsburgh marker, and Michel Dion made 34 saves for the Pens in the loss.
1984 -- Rick Tocchet and Ilkka Sinisalo each notched a pair of goals and Pelle Lindbergh stopped 17 of 21 shots as the Flyers blasted the New Jersey Devils, 8-4, at the Spectrum.
After future-Flyer Doug Sulliman staked N.J. to an early opening period lead, Philadelphia answered with strikes from Tim Kerr, Sinisalo, and a pair from Tocchet to take a comfortable 4-1 lead into the first intermission.
Thomas Eriksson, and Murray Craven added a goal and two helpers apiece in the win, Brad McCrimmon scored one goal and assisted on another, and Ron Sutter assisted on both Tocchet markers.
With the win Lindbergh snapped a personal four-game losing skid, and ended his seven-game winless stretch (0-5-2).
1986 -- Tim Kerr remained red hot with his 27th goal of the season, and Ron Hextall made 29 saves to lead the Flyers to a 6-4 triumph over the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Igloo.
Philadelphia got a quick jump midway through the opening period when Brad McCrimmon and Pelle Eklund each scored goals 10 seconds apart to make it 2-0, but Flyer-killer Willy Lindstrom cut the Flyers lead to 2-1 before the end of the stanza.
Despite being outshot by an 11-6 margin in the middle frame, Philadelphia potted four of the period's five goals (Mario Lemieux tallied for the Pens). Dave Poulin, Murray Craven, Kerr, and Mark Howe each lit the lamp to give the Flyers a 6-2 lead heading into the third.
Ilkka Sinisalo assisted on Philly's first three markers, giving him four helpers and five points in the two contests since returning from a three-game absence due to a sprained knee.
By virtue of also adding an assist, it was the fourth consecutive multiple-point outing for Kerr (seven goals, nine points) and extended his point-scoring streak to eight straight contests, in which he notched nine goals and 14 points during that span.
1997 -- Rod Brind'Amour scored one power play goal and assisted on another, Eric Lindros scored for a third straight game, and Garth Snow snuffed out all 14 shots he faced as the Flyers blanked the Florida Panthers, 2-0, at the CoreStates Center.
The whitewash was the third and final shutout for Snow during his time in Philadelphia before being dealt to the Vancouver Canucks for Sean Burke in March of 1998.
2001 -- Keith Primeau jammed a Chris Therien rebound past Ed Belfour midway through the second period to snap a 1-1 tie, and Brian Boucher turned aside 29 of 30 shots to lead the Flyers to a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars at the First Union Center.
Primeau also assisted on Marty Murray's first period goal.
Donald Brashear played in his first game with Philadelphia -- and the 500th contest of his NHL career -- after being acquired three days earlier from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Jan Hlavac. The tough winger was whistled for two minors, the second leading to Dallas' only goal of the night on a Martin Rucinsky power play tally.
The win was the fifth in six decisions for Boucher, and improved his record to 8-4-1 for the campaign.
2003 -- Defenseman Jim Vandermeer posted the first two-goal game of his NHL career, and Robert Esche returned to stop 18 shots following a seven-game absence as the Flyers skated to a 3-1 triumph over the New York Islanders at the Wachovia Center.
New York's Alexei Yashin gave the visitors a 1-0 lead early in the second period, but Vandermeer tied it late in the middle stanza and staked Philadelphia to its first lead of the contest 6:18 into the third period.
Vandermeer beat Snow between pads with a long-range slap shot through a heavy screen 6:18 into the final period, and Simon Gagne provided an insurance goal by notching a man advantage marker with 7:26 remaining.
The victory snapped the Flyers' five-game winless skid (0-1-2-2), which happened to coincide with Esche's time out of the lineup after suffering a groin strain.
There were two milestones set by Philly skaters in the win -- John LeClair became the 16th player in team history to play in 600 games with the Flyers, and Jeremy Roenick assisted on Vandermeer's game-winning goal in the third period to give him 635 in his career to surpass Neal Broten for fifth place on the all-time list of American-born players. Roenick later added another helper on Gagne's PP goal.
2008 -- Scott Hartnell scored three times in the third period, Jeff Carter notched a pair of goals and four points and Antero Niittymaki turned away 47 of 48 shots as the Flyers -- though badly outshot, 48-28 -- blew the Washington Capitals right out of the Wachovia Center by a score of 7-1.
Niittymaki was spectacular as the Caps held a 25-6 shots advantage in the opening period, but trailed Philadelphia 1-0 on a Joffrey Lupul goal.
Washington dominated play for the first 40 minutes of the contest -- with a healthy 29-13 lead in shots on goal -- but thanks to Niittymaki's sensational netminding found themselves down, 3-0, after Carter scored twice in the middle frame. Carter managed his second of the night while Philadelphia was shorthanded, killing off a late-session Ossi Vaananen minor.
Hartnell -- who had notched a hat trick against the Carolina Hurricanes nine days earlier -- beat Jose Theodore, who came into the game at the start of the third in relief of starter Brent Johnson, three times in a span of 11:40 to record the fourth three-goal outing as a Flyer. The four points gave the redhead seven goals and 10 points in his last six contests, and marked the second time in the calendar year in which he had posted a pair of hat tricks in a nine-day span (January 10, 2008 v the New York Rangers and January 19, 2008 v New York Islanders).
Simon Gagne also tallied for Philadelphia, while Brooks Laich spoiled Niittymaki's bid for a shutout in the final session for the Capitals only goal of the night.
Like Hartnell and Carter, Lupul also posted four points, as he assisted on three markers in addition to his goal.
December 20 Flyers' birthday:
Bill Clement was born in Thurso, Quebec on this day in 1950. Taken by Philadelphia in the second round (18th-overall) of the 1970 entry draft, the 6' 1", 194-pound centerman's game developed under Fred Shero, as he blossomed into a 20-goal scorer in his final year with the club. After posting 53 goals and 105 points in 229 regular season games with the Flyers and scoring the second goal in the 1975 Stanley Cup-clinching 2-0 triumph over the Buffalo Sabres, Clement was part of a package dealt to the Washington Capitals in exchange for the first-overall pick in that summer's entry draft, with that pick being used to select Mel Bridgman.