clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Today in Philadelphia Flyers history: Pre-game brawl in Montreal, completing a comeback for the ages in Boston

A messy brawl with the Canadiens prior to Game 6 of the 1987 Wales Conference Final, and coming back from the dead at 0-3 in the series and 0-3 in Game 7 against Boston in 2010 highlight May 14 in Flyers history

Elsa/Getty Images

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

Philadelphia owns a 5-2 all-time record in seven postseason games played on May 14, with a few of those wins holding unbelievable moments that will not be soon forgotten by those who were there to witness them. Two of those wins have reached iconic status among the Flyers faithful.

1974 -- Bill Barber snapped a 2-2 tie late in the third period and Andre Dupont scored 1:15 later to ice a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins at the Spectrum in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, giving the Flyers a commanding 3-1 series lead in the club's quest to secure their initial NHL championship.

Rick MacLeish and Dave Schultz had staked the home team to a 2-0 lead with goals 50 seconds apart early in the opening frame, but Phil Esposito and Andre Savard answered to tie it up for the Bruins in a fight-filled first twenty minutes.

The victory left Philadelphia just one step short of becoming the first 1967 expansion team to claim Lord Stanley as the scene shifted back to Boston for Game 5.

1985 -- Murray Craven's goal with less than five minutes remaining capped a two-goal Philadelphia third period comeback and lift the Flyers to a 2-1 triumph over the Quebec Nordiques in Game 5 of the Wales Conference Final at Le Colisee, giving Philly a 3-2 series lead and moving them to within a game of returning to their first Cup Final since 1980 with the scene shifting back to South Philly for Game 6.

The game was scoreless into the second period thanks to the play of Philadelphia's Pelle Lindbergh and the Nords' Mario "Goose" Gosselin in their respective creases, but Quebec jumped in front following a couple of Flyers miscues.

With both forward Derrick Smith and defenseman Doug Crossmann in the penalty box, the Nordiques were able to cash in on the two-man advantage courtesy of the diminutive Jean-Francois Sauve. The goal gave Gosselin and the home team a 1-0 lead at the second intermission.

The Flyers were on a power play of their own heading into the third frame, as Paul Gillis had been whistled for a holding minor with 10 seconds left in the second. Joe Paterson -- who was recalled earlier in the postseason from the Hershey Bears due to injuries -- knotted the score at the 1:00 mark, and the game hung in the balance until Craven's late-game heroics.

Lindbergh was spectacular throughout, stopping all 13 Quebec shots in the third and 30 of 31 for the contest.

1987 -- This is one of those games that today's younger fans likely hear about and wish they could have experienced firsthand for themselves. The atmosphere at the Forum was always electric, and this do-or-die Game 6 for the Montreal Canadiens -- trailing the Flyers in the Wales Conference Final series 3-2 -- would prove to be yet another memorable night.

What is remembered most on this occasion actually occurred well before the opening faceoff had even taken place. Habs agitator Claude Lemieux had a ritual after each pre-game skate where he would linger on the ice until after everyone else had left for their respective locker rooms, and he would skate to the opponent's end of the rink and shoot the puck into the vacant visitor's cage. Philadelphia players became increasingly annoyed at the practice, and had actually turned the net around to face the end boards following the warm-ups so as to discourage him from doing so during the series.

It hadn't worked, so a couple of Flyers planned on crashing Lemieux's superstitious exercise.

The players from both squads exited the ice after the Game 6 pre-game skate, with the exception of rugged Philly blue liner Ed "Boxcar" Hospodar and backup netminder Glenn "Chico" Resch. They waited until both Lemieux and teammate Shayne Corson left the surface and headed down the tunnel. As the pair of Flyers began to skate back to their bench, Lemieux and Corson reappeared and started towards the Philadelphia net with puck in tow.

Hospodar and Resch saw this and quickly reversed their course in an attempt to cut off the the Canadiens, but Corson was able to send a shot into the gaping cage. Hospodar grabbed Lemieux and started pummeling him, as Resch held onto Corson.

By now the crowd was going crazy, and the players who had made it back into the dressing room heard the commotion and started trickling back out onto the ice. Many of the players emerged with partial equipment, as they had removed some of their gear for the period in between warm up and the game.

There were no officials around, so the melee went on for more than 10 minutes before referee Andy van Hellemond and linesmen Wayne Bonney and Bob Hodges finally came out to try and restore sanity.

With no on-ice officials present at the time of the actual altercations, no penalties were doled out as a result of the pre-game fracas.

When they actually started playing hockey, Mike McPhee gave the home team a lead before the contest was even a minute old. Dave Poulin evened the score with a shorthanded marker late in the stanza, but Larry Robinson restored the Canadiens lead with just four ticks remaining on the clock before the first intermission.

Bobby Smith beat Ron Hextall on a power play 7:00 into the middle frame and at 3-1, it appeared as if Les Habitants were poised to send the series back to the Spectrum for a deciding Game 7. But Ilkka Sinisalo cut the deficit in half 49 seconds later, and Scott Mellanby tied it up less than two minutes after that.

It was now a new game, deadlocked at 3-3 heading into the third period.

The trio of Brian Propp, Pelle Eklund, and Rick Tocchet had been instrumental in saving Philly so many times before they had been dubbed 'The Life Line' -- Eklund, a usual set up man, scored twice in Game 3 and notched a Game 4 hat trick that spelled the end of the series for Patrick Roy -- and they would come to the club's rescue once again.

As the stanza approached the midway point, Propp fed Tocchet and the gritty winger beat Montreal netminder Brian Hayward for the series-winning tally.

By virtue of the 4-3 triumph, the Flyers captured their second Wales Conference title in three seasons.

Though there were no penalties regarding the pre-game fights, there were repercussions that would arise two days later between the conference final and beginning of the Cup Final with the Edmonton Oilers.

Hospodar -- correctly identified as the instigator in escalating the incident from a bit of Canadiens gamesmanship into an ugly, all-out brawl -- was suspended from participating in the remainder of the playoffs. Every player who returned to the ice surface was fined $500 (totaling $24,500), and all of the players who engaged in fighting -- Philadelphia's Hospodar, Dave Brown, Tocchet, Daryl Stanley, and Don Nachbaur, as well as Montreal's Corson, Chris Nilan, Robinson, and McPhee -- were each tagged with an additional $500 fine.

The incident was a major catalyst for the league's institution of the instigator rule, and lives on as one of the most unusual and eventful nights in Flyers history.

1995: Philadelphia stormed Dominik Hasek with 19 first period shots and converted on four as the Flyers bolted to a 5-0 lead en route to a 6-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at the Spectrum, clinching the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series in five games. Philly would move on to the conference semis to face the New York Rangers, who had unceremoniously dispatched of the Quebec Nordiques in six hard-fought contests.

Eric Lindros paced the early onslaught with a goal and two assists, as goals from Rod Brind'Amour, Kevin Haller, Patrick Juhlin, and John LeClair made it 5-0 less than four minutes into the second period.

But Buffalo wouldn't go down without a fight as they tilted the ice surface in the direction of Ron Hextall for the rest of the contest with a shots count of 23-11, which included a lopsided 15-5 total in the middle session.

2010: Simon Gagne snapped a 3-3 deadlock with 7:08 remaining in regulation as Philly became just the third team in NHL history to overcome an 0-3 series deficit to win a series with a thrilling 4-3 triumph over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden that would involve yet another epic come-from-behind performance by the Orange-and-Black.

In excess of 15,000 rabid fans took the Flyers up on their offer to come to the Wachovia Center and take part in a viewing party, cheering wildly as the events of the night unfolded.

It didn't look as though there was any magic left in the club's postseason run early on.

After rallying for wins in Games 4, 5, and 6 to incredibly force a Game 7, it seemed like it was just delaying the inevitable when Boston jumped out to a 3-0 lead late in the opening stanza. Michael Ryder gave the Bruins an early lead with a power play marker, and Milan Lucic netted a pair of goals to build a seemingly insurmountable three-goal lead.

No one would have criticized the Flyers if they were finally laid to rest, as it's a rarity for a team to even get to a Game 7 when down 0-3.

But this game would end up eerily mirroring the series as a whole in the way it would eventually play out.

Following a 30-second timeout taken by head coach Peter Laviolette -- perhaps the defining moment of Laviolette's tenure in Philadelphia, in which he can be seen pointing at the game clock and it was later discovered he was telling his players they could win the game if they could just get one goal before the end of the period -- rookie James van Riemsdyk began the comeback with his first-ever postseason goal with 2:48 left in the opening frame.

Scott Hartnell backhanded a rebound past a fallen Tuukka Rask in the first three minutes of the middle stanza, and Daniel Briere banked the puck off a Bruin in the crease as he circled behind the net to miraculously tie it up midway through the period.

Boston was called for a too-many-men on the ice penalty -- reminiscent of a similar Bruins' bench minor called in the waning moments of Game 7 in the 1979 semifinal round against Boston's arch-rival Montreal Canadiens that led to a game-tying goal from Guy Lafleur and an eventual Habs victory in overtime -- Gagne gave the Flyers their first lead of the night with a power play goal with 7:08 remaining in regulation, sending a shot over Rask's right shoulder and into the far top corner to the disbelief of the Bruins fans in attendance.

It was a lead Philadelphia would not relinquish as Michael Leighton slammed the door shut the rest of the way, as the club etched their names in the annals of NHL history and moved on to the Eastern Conference Final to face red-hot goaltender Jaroslav Halak and the upstart Montreal Canadiens.

The Flyers joined the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders as the only squads in league history to eradicate an 0-3 series deficit and prevail.