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
Heading into tonight's matchup with the Colorado Avalanche, the Flyers have posted a 9-5-2-1 record in 17 contests played on December 31. After playing their first New Year's Eve contest at the Spectrum, the club has spent the 15 of the subsequent 16 December 31 games in opponent's barns, with another being played at a neutral site.
Some of the more memorable moments and brief recaps in Flyers history that took place on December 31:
1967 -- Brit Selby scored twice, Gary Dornhoefer notched his second Gordie Howe hat trick of the season, and the Flyers set what at the time was a franchise record for offensive output in a single game with a 9-1 demolition of the Los Angeles Kings at the Spectrum.
Wayne Hicks and Larry Zeidel each scored in the span of 28 seconds early in the first to get the home squad off to a good start, and Don Blackburn and Dornhoefer doubled Philadelphia's lead before the first intermission.
The four-goal deficit prompted L.A. head coach Red Kelly to pull starting netminder Wayne Rutledge in favor of Terry Sawchuk, but the move did not alter the Kings' fortunes. The Flyers claimed all three tallies in the middle session, with Selby posting a pair and Ed Hoekstra making it 7-0 heading into the third.
Doug Favell was busy -- facing 38 Los Angeles shots for the night -- but the Philly goalkeeper was perfect until future-Flyer Bill Flett ruined his shutout bid early in the final stanza before Claude Laforge and Leon Rochefort struck for Philadelphia to close out the scoring.
In addition to his first period goal, Dornhoefer fought Brian Smith earlier in the opening frame and assisted on Selby's second goal of the night to complete the Gordie Howe feat.
1985 -- Brian Propp recorded a goal and an assist and the Flyers peppered Andy Moog with 47 shots, but Wayne Gretzky's hat trick lifted the Edmonton Oilers to a 4-3 win at the Northlands Coliseum.
1988 -- Dave Poulin snapped a 2-2 deadlock with 4:44 remaining in the third period to lift the Flyers to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Memorial Auditorium.
Mike Bullard staked Philly to an early lead, but Buffalo knotted things up late in the opening frame when Scott Metcalfe beat Ron Hextall for his first NHL tally.
The second period followed suit as Philadelphia again grabbed a lead courtesy of Terry Carkner, but Rick Vaive tied it four minutes later.
Poulin was sent in on a breakaway via a Scott Mellanby feed, and the Philadelphia captain beat Daren Puppa with a backhand shot to make winners of the Flyers for the ninth time in 10 games, and giving them a 12-2-1 mark in their last 15.
1993 -- Eric Lindros, Mark Recchi, and Mikael Renberg each notched a goal and two helpers as the Flyers scored three times in the final period and overcame a late second period three-goal deficit to pull out a 4-3 triumph over the Boston Bruins.
The game was actually played at a neutral site -- the Target Center in Minneapolis -- as the league wanted to allow Minnesota hockey fans to continue a tradition of a New Year's Eve game and post-game skate after the Stars had departed for Dallas during the previous offseason.
First period power play goals from Bryan Smolinski and Cam Neely and an even strength strike from Gordie Roberts late in the middle frame gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead, but Renberg answered less than a minute after Roberts' marker to give Philadelphia momentum heading into the third.
Rod Brind'Amour brought the Flyers back to within a goal just 1:40 into the final stanza, before Recchi knotted the score at 3-3 with just over six and a half minutes left. Recchi then set up the game-winner on a two-on-one rush, sending a perfect feed past Boston defender Glen Wesley and onto the stick of Lindros, who waited for goalie Jon Casey to make the first move then hit the net from a bad angle.
Boston badly outplayed Philly throughout -- outshooting the Flyers by a lopsided 35-19 count -- but Dominic Roussel was spectacular in the Philadelphia blue paint to pick up the win.
1996 -- John LeClair broke a 2-2 tie with 12:26 remaining and the Flyers scored four times in the third period to pull out a 5-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place, giving Philadelphia a third consecutive win as they ran their unbeaten streak to 14 games (12-0-2) since their last loss.
Trailing 2-1, Eric Lindros knotted the game on the power play just over a minute into the final session. Ron Hextall caught a break when Pavel Bure snapped a shot past him, but the game stayed deadlocked when it rang off the crossbar six minutes into the third.
Renberg made it a 4-2 lead just over two minutes after LeClair had his own rebound carom off his body and past Kirk McLean and into the net for the go-ahead marker, and Joel Otto broke Vancouver's back with a shorthanded tally with 3:23 remaining to give Philadelphia a 5-2 lead.
LeClair also assisted on Trent Klatt's second period goal to give the all-star winger his third straight multi-point outing, during which he posted five goals and seven points.
The win was unfortunately a costly one, as the Flyers lost Paul Coffey when he was knocked unconscious following a heavy collision with Lindros at center ice. The two were skating in opposite directions and never saw the other, and Coffey laid motionless for several minutes before having to be carted off on a stretcher. The eventual Hall-of-Fame defenseman -- who had registered a goal and six points in six games since being acquired two weeks earlier from the Hartford Whalers -- was never the same after sustaining a concussion in the incident.
1997 -- John LeClair and Colin Forbes each scored a pair of goals, while Ron Hextall stopped all 27 shots he faced to post his 18th regular season shutout as the Flyers trounced the Vancouver Canucks, 8-0, at GM Place.
Philadelphia scored four times in both the first and third periods, with Trent Klatt, Pat Falloon, Chris Gratton, and Daniel Lacroix also lighting the lamp for the visitors, while Eric Lindros assisted on four of the Philly markers.
The game deteriorated as the outcome became increasingly obvious, with 13 fighting majors, three misconducts, and a game misconduct being doled out over the final two frames.
1998 -- Both Rod Brind'Amour and Valeri Zelepukin scored two goals apiece and John Vanbiesbrouck stopped 23 of 25 shots as the Flyers blasted the Vancouver Canucks, 6-2, at GM Place.
Trailing 1-0 on a Markus Naslund goal after one period, Brind'Amour notched a pair while Zelepukin and Colin Forbes added one apiece in a decisive second period as Philadelphia took a 4-1 lead into the third.
Zelepukin and Mattias Ohlund traded tallies before John LeClair closed out the scoring with less than a minute left to set the final margin.
2001 -- Simon Gagne scored with three seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Flyers to a 2-1 triumph over the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place, giving Philadelphia their 12th straight road win.
John LeClair staked the visitors to a 1-0 lead late in the second period, when he took the rebound of a Marty Murray shot and banked it off Canucks' defender Ed Jovanovski's skate and past Dan Cloutier with 2:18 left before the second intermission.
It appeared as if that was all the offensive support netminder Roman Cechmanek would require, but Matt Cooke knotted the contest with less than four minutes to play.
Dan McGillis started the game-winning sequence as Cloutier made the save on the defender's shot, with the rebound being knocked behind the Vancouver cage. Jeremy Roenick dug out the loose puck and slipped a pass in front to Gagne, who flipped a backhander past Cloutier with just three ticks left on the clock.
2006 -- Alexei Zhitnik snapped a 1-1 tie with 13 seconds left in the second period and Robert Esche made 40 saves as the badly outplayed Flyers skated out of RBC Center with a 5-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Zhitnik's goal followed strikes by Philadelphia's Simon Gagne and Carolina's Ray Whitney, and the Flyers took complete control of the game in the third.
Ryan Potulny and Kyle Calder notched goals 1:25 apart early in the final stanza, and Mike Knuble hit the empty net with Cam Ward pulled after Whitney's second had pulled the 'Canes to within two.
The win was the second straight for Philly following a 10-game losing streak (0-9-1), and it did not come easily. Esche had to be excellent as the Hurricanes outshot the Flyers, 42-19, including a 30-9 margin over the last 40 minutes.
2013 -- Brayden Schenn broke a 1-1 tie with less than two minutes remaining in the second period, while Ray Emery turned away 23 of 24 shots in a 4-1 triumph over the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Mark Streit gave Philadelphia an early lead when his wrist shot found its way through a mass of humanity and Calgary goalkeeper Reto Berra, but Sean Monahan evened things up with 5:30 left in the second session.
Schenn -- who also had a pair of helpers in the contest -- picked up a loose puck between the circles after Andrej Meszaros' failed shot attempt, wheeled around and snapped a shot past Berra's blocker side to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead heading into the third.
Scott Hartnell gave Emery some breathing room midway through the stanza, and Braydon Coburn clinched the victory with a shorthanded empty netter late in regulation.