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
After going 1-4-1-0 in their first six games on this day, the Flyers have still managed a 14-10-5-0 overall record -- which includes an 9-3-2-0 mark at home -- in the 29 games played on December 23 over the course of franchise history.
Tonight's matchup with the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center marks the second consecutive year the teams will meet on December 23, with Philadelphia winning last year, 4-1, at the Wells Fargo Center.
Some of the more memorable moments and brief recaps in Flyers history that took place on December 23:
1975 -- Bobby Clarke scored the game-tying goal with 6:41 remaining in the third period, and Wayne Stephenson made 31 saves as the Flyers and Atlanta Flames skated to a 2-2 draw at the Omni.
The goal extended Clarke's point-scoring streak to eight games, in which he lit the lamp twice and posted 13 points over that stretch.
Don Saleski opened the scoring 11:21 into the middle stanza, but Atlanta tied it up via a Claude St. Sauveur tally just over four minutes later. Bill Flett staked the home team to a 2-1 lead 5:36 into the third before Clarke's tying marker late in the session.
Future-Flyer Phil Myre made 30 saves for the Flames.
1976 -- Don Saleski broke open a 1-1 game with two second period goals, while Wayne Stephenson turned away 25 of 27 shots in just his second start of the season to lead the Flyers to a 5-2 triumph over the Washington Capitals at the Spectrum.
Mel Bridgman -- who also had a pair of helpers in the contest -- opened the scoring late in the first period, but Washington's Garnet "Ace" Bailey knotted it up less than two minutes later to make it 1-1 at the first intermission.
Saleski beat Bernie Wolfe midway through regulation while Philadelphia was shorthanded, then added his second of the night with 1:36 remaining in the stanza to give the home team a two-goal cushion heading into the final session.
Goals from defensemen Tom Bladon and Andre Dupont stretched the Flyers' lead to 5-1, before Ron Lalonde closed out the scoring for the Caps in the waning moments of the third.
1979 -- Brian Propp scored twice and Pete Peeters stopped 14 of 16 shots as the Flyers extended their NHL record unbeaten streak to 30 games with a 4-2 victory over the Hartford Whalers at the Spectrum.
Propp staked Philadelphia to a 2-0 lead with one goal late in the first and his second early in the middle stanza, but Blaine Stoughton drew the visitors to within a goal at 2-1 before the end of the frame.
Hartford's John Garrett was busy during the first 40 minutes as Philly held a lopsided 29-8 shots count, but the netminder did a solid job of holding his club in the game.
Bill Barber was instrumental in giving Peeters some breathing room. First he set up Tom Gorence to make it 3-1 before the third period was two minutes old, then scored another himself just over two minutes later to make it a three-goal margin.
Whalers' winger Steve Alley potted his first NHL marker to close out the scoring.
Reggie Leach assisted on two Flyers' goals in the win, which gave red-hot Philadelphia a scorching 21-0-9 mark over the course of their last 30 contests, and a 22-1-9 overall record for the season.
1981 -- Bill Barber posted a pair of goals, Brian Propp and Ken Linseman each notched a goal and three points, and Pete Peeters made 31 saves as the Flyers outscored the Chicago Blackhawks in a wild 7-6 affair at Chicago Stadium.
Trailing 2-0 in the opening period on goals from Al Secord and Keith Brown, Linseman and Barber each managed shorthanded strikes to even the score by the first intermission.
Barber scored his second 8:10 into the middle stanza and Bobby Clarke followed with another only 30 seconds later, before Propp made it a trio of goals within a span of 1:11 to make it a 5-2 lead. Tom Lysiak cut the lead to 5-3 but Ron Flockhart made it a three-goal lead again just 16 seconds later, and Behn Wilson made it 7-3 with a late second period power play marker.
The Flyers almost choked the lead away as Reg Kerr, Secord's second of the contest, and future-Flyer Doug Crossman all scored to cut the lead to the slimmest of margins, but Chicago could not find the equalizer.
1984 -- Tim Kerr led a seven-goal attack with his fourth career hat trick, Murray Craven added a pair of goals, and Pelle Lindbergh made 27 saves as the Flyers drilled the Washington Capitals, 7-4, at the Spectrum.
Derrick Smith and Ross Fitzpatrick also tallied once each for Philly, who won for just the second time in their last seven outings (2-4-0-1). Doug Crossman assisted on three Flyers' markers while Mark Howe, Rick Tocchet, Peter Zezel, and Brian Propp all added two helpers to the winning cause.
The trio of goals gave Kerr 28 in only his 32nd game of the season.
1987 -- Dave Poulin notched a pair of goals and three points, and Ron Hextall thwarted 33 shots to lead the Flyers to a 5-3 triumph over the Minnesota North Stars at the Spectrum.
Scott Mellanby, Rick Tocchet, and Ilkka Sinisalo (shorthanded) also beat Minnesota goalie Kari Takko, who allowed five goals on 31 shots.
Mark Howe and Pelle Eklund each added a pair of helpers apiece, with Howe's extending his points streak to five games -- with the last four being multi-point efforts -- during which he posted three goals and 12 points.
1988 -- Mike Bullard scored the game-winning goal with 47 seconds remaining in regulation, Tim Kerr and Ron Sutter each posted a goal and two assists, while Ron Hextall turned aside 31 of 35 shots as the Flyers defeated the Hartford Whalers by a 5-4 score at the Spectrum.
Trailing 2-1 in the latter half of the middle frame, Kerr beat Mike Liut on the power play to tie the game heading into the third period.
Murray Craven and Sutter scored to give Philadelphia a 4-2 lead early in the frame, but goals from Whalers defenders Sylvain Cote and Joel Quenneville knotted the game at 4-4 to set up Bullard's late-game heroics.
Scott Mellanby also scored for the Flyers, and Brian Propp set up two Philly goals.
1989 -- Ron Sutter scored twice, Mike Bullard added a goal and an assist, and Ken Wregget made 31 saves to lead the Flyers to a 5-3 victory over Patrick Roy and the Montreal Canadiens at the Forum.
Wregget also got into the offensive act by assisting on Bullard's first period marker, which snapped a 1-1 tie less than a minute after Montreal's Stephane Richer had knotted things up
Sutter and Dave Poulin scored the lone second period markers to make it a 4-1 Philadelphia lead, but third period goals from Andrew Cassels and Bobby Smith pulled Les Habitants back to within a goal before Sutter hit the empty net with Patrick Roy -- who finished with 23 saves in the loss -- pulled for the extra skater.
Pelle Eklund also scored for the visitors, while rear guard Jay Wells assisted on two Flyers' tallies.
1990 -- Murray Craven scored twice in the first period -- including one on a penalty shot -- as the Flyers built a 4-0 lead, only to have to settle for an eventual 4-4 tie with the Montreal Canadiens at the Spectrum.
Opening period strikes from Tony Horacek, Craven (two), and Rick Tocchet chased Montreal starter Andre "Red Light" Racicot at the first intermission, but that's all the home team would muster on the scoreboard as Jean-Claude Bergeron snuffed out all 17 Philadelphia shots the rest of the way.
Meanwhile things were busy throughout for Ron Hextall, who finished with 45 saves on 49 Habs offerings -- including a wide 32-14 margin over the second and third periods.
The visitors got even on a pair of Denis Savard tallies and one each from Shayne Corson and Russ Courtnall, who delivered the game-tying marker with 4:55 remaining in regulation.
The Flyers recorded all three shots in the extra session, but Bergeron would not yield anything as the contest ended in a deadlock.
1995 -- Rod Brind'Amour provided the game-tying marker at 7:36 of the third period, while Garth Snow turned away 32 shots in a 3-3 draw with the Hartford Whalers at the Hartford Civic Center.
Sean Burke was perfect over the first two frames as he thwarted all of Philadelphia's 24 shots to nurse a 2-0 lead heading into the third, but goals from Joel Otto and Eric Lindros in the first 4:00 of the stanza knotted the score at 2-2.
Nelson Emerson gave Hartford the lead once again with a power play tally at 6:43, but Brind'Amour tied it up just 53 seconds later.
Snow had to be particularly good in the overtime session, where he stopped all three shots he faced to preserve the tie.
1997 -- Eric Desjardins posted a goal and an assist, and Ron Hextall stopped 21 of 23 shots to lead the Flyers to a 4-2 triumph over the Carolina Hurricanes at the CoreStates Center.
Shjon Podein, Chris Gratton, and Rod Brind'Amour also scored for Philadelphia, who extended their undefeated streak to eight games (6-0-2-0).
With the victory, Hextall stretched his personal unbeaten string to five straight starts (4-0-1).
1998 -- Eric Desjardins snapped a 1-1 deadlock 6:51 into the third period, John LeClair notched a goal and figured in on both Philly goals, and John Vanbiesbrouck stopped 28 of 30 shots to lead the Flyers to a 2-1 road win over the Boston Bruins at the Fleet Center.
A LeClair marker in the first period and Joe Thornton tally in the second left the clubs in a 1-1 deadlock heading into the third period, setting the stage for Desjardins' heroics.
Shortly after Boston goalkeeper Byron Dafoe had robbed Rod Brind'Amour, LeClair hit Desjardins with a perfect feed as the defender was streaking towards the Bruins' cage. Desjardins made a move, and snuck a shot past Dafoe for the eventual game-winner.
"He's our Eric Lindros on defense," said Flyers' head coach Roger Neilson in praise of Desjardins following the win. "He's our top man. He plays a lot, and plays well."
Speaking of Lindros, the Philadelphia captain posted helpers on both Flyers' goals.
1999 -- Rod Brind'Amour scored a goal and added an assist in just his second game of the season, but the Flyers blew a 4-1 lead in an eventual 4-4 deadlock with the Atlanta Thrashers at the First Union Center.
Goals from Mikael Andersson, Mikael Renberg, Mark Recchi, and Brind'Amour made it a 4-1 contest 6:42 into the middle stanza, but Atlanta scored the last three of the night -- with Nelson Emerson's early third period tally serving as the game-tying marker.
Brind'Amour, who missed the first 34 games of the campaign due to surgery on a fractured left foot, posted his first two points of the year in his second contest back.
Brian Boucher stopped 25 of 29 shots, while Scott Fankhouser was spectacular -- who made 36 saves, including all five shots registered in overtime -- in relief of Norm Maracle, who was yanked following Andersson and Renberg goals on the first four shots he faced just 3:40 after the opening faceoff.
2000 -- Dan McGillis took a pass from Daymond Langkow and beat Arturs Irbe over the glove hand side with 1:10 remaining in overtime to give the Flyers a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at the First Union Center. The win was the seventh straight game without a loss for the Orange-and-Black (4-0-3) under head coach Bill Barber, who took over for Craig Ramsey.
Jeff O'Neill gave the visitors an early first period lead, but Simon Gagne answered early in the middle session to tie the game at 1-1. Irbe had made the save on an initial shot from Rich Tocchet and a diving stop on Michal Sykora on the rebound, before Gagne picked up the loose puck and flipped it over the fallen goaltender and into the net.
The goal gave Gagne points in five consecutive contests, in which the second-year Flyer managed five goals and three assists.
Roman Cechmanek was spectacular in the Philly cage, making 35 saves -- including all four he faced in overtime -- to extend his undefeated streak to four games (3-0-1).
2002 -- Simon Gagne scored the game-tying goal early in the third period, and Robert Esche made 26 saves in a 2-2 draw with the Ottawa Senators at the Corel Centre.
Michal Handzus also scored for Philadelphia, who picked up a point for the sixth time in their last seven outings (4-1-2).
2005 -- Peter Forsberg and Mike Knuble scored within a 1:09 span late in the third period to rally the Flyers to a 5-4 triumph over the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Igloo.
Simon Gagne and Forsberg gave Philly a 2-0 lead at the first intermission, and they added on to that lead when Dennis Seidenberg scored his first goal of the season early in the second period.
But Tomas Surovy and Erik Christensen made it a 3-2 game heading into the third, before rookie sensation Sidney Crosby notched a pair of markers within a 44-second span early in the third to stake the Pens to their first lead of the night at 4-3 before Forsberg's second tied it up and Knuble struck for his game-winner.
Antero Niittymaki made 22 saves to claim the win, while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 of 32 Flyer shots in defeat.
Rookie Mike Richards assisted on a pair of goals, including the primary assist on Knuble's winner from the right circle.
2008 -- Simon Gagne snapped a 4-4 tie with 5:30 remaining in the third period and Antero Niittymaki made 17 saves to lead the Flyers to a 6-4 win over the Ottawa Senators at the Wachovia Center.
Philadelphia led 2-1 after the opening period on strikes from Matt Carle and Joffrey Lupul, and furthered their lead in the second to 4-2 when Jeff Carter notched his NHL-leading 26th of the year and Andreas Nodl scored his first career goal.
Dany Heatley and Chris Phillips connected for Ottawa to tie it up midway through the final stanza, before Gagne's game-winner and a Mike Richards empty-netter with 10 seconds left.
Scott Hartnell added a pair of helpers in the victory.
2009 -- Mike Richards and Blair Betts each scored twice, and Michael Leighton turned aside 31 of 33 shots to lead the Flyers to a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Goals from Betts -- who was credited with the goal after Tampa defender Andrej Meszaros accidentally put the puck into his own net -- and Richards staked the visitors to a 2-0 lead after the opening frame, but Zenon Konopka and Victor Hedman scored in the middle stanza to make it a 2-2 game at the second intermission.
Betts snapped the deadlock with 9:59 remaining in regulation with his second of the contest when he deflected an Oskars Bartulis shot past Bolts' netminder Mike Smith, before Richards netted his second for an insurance marker and Simon Gagne hit the empty net with 34 seconds left.
Claude Giroux and added a pair of assists apiece.
2013 -- Wayne Simmonds posted a pair of goals and an assist, Claude Giroux added a goal and a helper, while Steve Mason made 26 saves, pacing the Flyers to their ninth straight win on home ice in a convincing 4-1 triumph over the Minnesota Wild at the Wells Fargo Center.
Luke Schenn opened the scoring on Philadelphia's first shot of the contest as Scott Hartnell attempted to carry the puck from behind the Minnesota net but lost control, with the puck going right to Schenn who beat Niklas Backstrom with a one-timer just 1:52 after the opening faceoff.
With the assist on Schenn's goal, Hartnell hit the 500-point plateau in his NHL career.
The Flyers doubled their lead via the man advantage midway through the first when Simmonds was on the finishing end of a gorgeous tic-tac-toe passing play with Giroux and Jakub Voracek, as he tapped in a pretty cross-crease pass from Voracek just 10 seconds after Minnesota's Marco Scandella went to the sin bin for interference.
The Wild cut that deficit in half late in the frame at the tail-end of a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage with Brayden Schenn and Braydon Coburn in the penalty box, when Mikael Granlund one-timed a Jason Pominville pass past Mason to make it a 2-1 Philly lead at the first intermission.
That was as close as the visitors would get as Giroux restored the two-goal lead 7:46 into the middle stanza, and Simmonds iced the outcome into an empty net with Backstrom pulled for an extra Minnesota attacker.
Both Voracek (8 games; 6 goals, 13 points during the span) and Giroux (7 games, 5 goals, 13 points) extended their personal career-best point streaks by virtue of their respective helpers on Simmonds' first goal.
Mason continued his winning ways with his third victory in a row, and improving to 7-1-2 over his last 10 decisions.