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
The Flyers have managed a pretty impressive 7-2 mark in nine May 4 postseason outings, including a perfect 3-0 record in games that went past regulation time. One of those became the longest contest in franchise history, another was a dramatic series-winner that sent Philly into the Eastern Conference Final.
Some of the more memorable moments and brief recaps in Flyers history that took place on May 4:
1975 -- Reggie Leach scored the game's lone goal 0:30 into the third period and Bernie Parent turned aside all 14 shots he faced as the Flyers skated to a 1-0 victory over the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum, giving Philadelphia a fairly comfortable 3-0 Semifinal series lead.
The shutout was Parent's fifth in the postseason with the Flyers, and gave the netminder a perfect 5-0 record up to that point that spring. He was in net for all four games of the Flyers' first round sweep of the Toronto Maple Leafs, before sitting out the first two games of the semis in favor of Wayne Stephenson.
It was the second consecutive series the Islanders had fallen behind 0-3, and had become just the second team to ever comeback from that deficit against the Pittsburgh Penguins for the right to play Philly in the semis.
Though holding a seemingly insurmountable lead and withstanding the fact that they were the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Flyers would find out for themselves just how difficult it would be to close out this upstart group of Isles.
1976 -- Orest Kindrachuk snapped a 2-2 deadlock early in the third period and Wayne Stephenson stopped 27 of 29 shots to lead the Flyers to a 4-2 triumph over the Boston Bruins at Boston Garden, giving Philly a sweep of the two games in Beantown and a firm 3-1 Semifinal series lead heading back to the friendly confines of the Spectrum.
Terry O'Reilly had given Boston a 2-1 lead in the first with a pair of markers sandwiched around one from Philadelphia's Mel Bridgman, before Reggie Leach knotted the game just 23 seconds into the middle stanza.
The goal made it eight games in a row with at least one tally for 'The Rifle', who reached 10 for the playoffs in 11 games following a franchise-record 61-goal regular season.
Following Kindrachuk's eventual game-winner, Joe Watson sealed the deal by beating Gerry Cheevers with 2:01 remaining to close out the scoring.
1980 -- Bill Barber recorded his first career postseason hat trick with four goals, and Phil Myre made 31 saves as the Flyers defeated the Minnesota North Stars by a 5-3 count at The Met Center, giving Philly a 2-1 lead in their Semifinal series.
Barber staked the visitors to a 2-0 lead by notching both goals late in the opening frame in a less than 2-minute span. Mel Bridgman made it 3-0 early in the second before Barber completed the hat trick 6:07 into the session to make it 4-0.
With a four-goal lead and Minnesota defenseman Curt Giles headed to the penalty box late in the period it looked like the Flyers could pile on the stats, but instead yielded a pair of shorthanded goals -- one by Tom Youghans and the other Tim Young -- to cut the lead in half and make a game of it.
Things got further complicated when Paul Holmgren was tabbed for a charging minor shortly thereafter, and Tom McCarthy's power play marker made it a 4-3 Flyers lead heading into the final frame.
The North Stars were buzzing and riding a wave of momentum, causing Philadelphia to take penalties. When Ken Linseman put Minnesota on their third consecutive man advantage of the period late in regulation it seemed a tying goal could be in the offing, but Barber put the final nail in the home team's coffin when he beat Gilles Meloche to close out the scoring.
1987 -- Ilkka Sinisalo scored his second goal of the game midway through overtime to life the Flyers to a 5-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at the Spectrum in the opener of the Wales Conference Final.
Sinisalo's shot was nearly lost in a sea of humanity piled in front of Montreal netminder Brian Hayward, but referee Terry Gregson had perfect position to see the puck was still loose and moving, and tracked it in its unwavering path as it made its way across the goal line to give Philadelphia the win.
The seesaw affair saw Brian Propp open the scoring late in the opening period, but the Flyers trailed 2-1 entering the third following Montreal goals from Shayne Corson and Ryan Walter.
Sinisalo tied it up early in the third, but Bobby Smith reclaimed the lead for the Canadiens less than two minutes later before Derrick Smith sent the game to extra time with a goal with less than four minutes remaining.
Rookie Ron Hextall was again excellent in net for Philly, stopping 33 Montreal offerings, including all six in overtime.
1996 -- Eric Lindros figured in on all three Philadelphia goals, including scoring the game-winner midway through the third period that gave the Flyers a 3-2 triumph over the Florida Panthers and even the Eastern Conference Semifinal series at 1-1.
Philadelphia was determined to put more pressure on John Vanbiesbrouck than they had in Game 1 -- when they managed just 18 total shots in a 2-0 defeat -- and they did just that by throwing 17 shots at the Panthers' cage in the opening twenty minutes alone.
But as he had done so many times in the past, Vanbiesbrouck was frustrating the Flyers. Not only did he not allow a goal during the stanza, Florida went to the locker room at the first intermission with a lead after Ray Sheppard was able to get separation from Kjell Samuelsson and beat Ron Hextall over the glove hand with 27 seconds left.
Instead of being deflated, the Flyers came out in the second even more determined, outshooting the Cats by a 30-14 margin the rest of the way. Karl Dykhuis knocked a Lindros pass home to knot things up early in the middle session, before John LeClair rifled the rebound of a Dale Hawerchuk shot past Vanbiesbrouck to give Philadelphia their first lead of the series.
Florida's gritty, never-say-die workmanlike attitude always kept them in games, and once again they would not go away quietly. With Lindros serving a high-sticking minor, the Panthers took advantage of a Samuelsson turnover that resulted in a Dave Lowry game-tying power play goal at 4:36.
The Flyers lethal line of LeClair-Lindros-Hawerchuk would combine for the game-winner almost five minutes later, when Lindros took a LeClair pass and blasted a slap shot that trickled through Vanbiesbrouck's pads and into the net.
The win gave the Flyers a much-needed split after dropping Game 1 as the series shifted to south Florida, and the head coach saw the play of his captain as the difference-maker.
``I don't know if there have been too many better games than the one Eric played tonight. The fire was in his eyes before the game and the intensity was there every time...shift after shift.' -- Terry Murray after the game
2000 -- Keith Primeau scored at 12:01 of the fifth overtime and rookie Brian Boucher made 57 saves as the Flyers won the battle of wills in a 2-1 thriller at Civic Arena in a contest that started at the usual evening time and didn't end until 2:35 the following morning.
After losing the first two games of the series on home ice, the Philly victory -- the second in a row in overtime -- evened the Eastern Conference Semifinal series at 2-2.
The night didn't start off like one that would forever be engrained in the minds of all who watched, with Alexei Kovalev getting the home team on the board first just 2:22 after the opening faceoff with a long shot that Boucher would probably have liked to have back.
Despite carrying play and having much the better chances in the first stanza -- botching passes on a couple of two-on-one odd-man rushes and hitting a crossbar on another shot -- the Flyers trailed 1-0 at the first intermission.
The score held up until early in the third period, when the man advantage unit -- which was 0-for-the-series (0-16) up to this point -- would get another chance with Martin Straka off for slashing. Daymond Langkow won a faceoff back to Eric Desjardins, who sent a slap shot towards the net that appeared destined to go high and wide but was suddenly in the net behind Ron Tugnutt.
Pittsburgh argued that the puck was touched with a high stick and should be blown dead, but after a lengthy video review it was determined that the shot actually deflected off of Pens defender Bob Boughner's stick, then off the helmet of John LeClair and into the net.
The goal was allowed, and the game -- unknowingly to anyone at that point for what length of time it would be -- was deadlocked.
That's not to say there weren't some golden opportunities to end things before Primeau took matters into his own hands late in OT number five:
Langkow nearly ended it quickly, when he beat Tugnutt -- but not the crossbar -- in the first half minute of the first overtime
The Penguins came close twice in the second overtime, with Kovalev shooting against the grain and catching iron early, and Boucher barely getting the knob of his stick on a shot by defenseman Janne Laukanen late in the session
Philly also came very close to potting the winner shortly after Laukanen's chance, when Tugnutt just got enough of a Langkow shot to deflect it wide of the net, and the goaltender covering the post on a Mark Recchi stuff attempt with just over 2 seconds remaining in OT two
With Philly shorthanded for a too many men on the ice call in the third overtime, Jaromir Jagr's one-timer from the right side hit the outside of the net, narrowly missing the short side
Later in that third OT, Dan McGillis sent a shot on net that caught the inside of Tugnutt's leg and trickled just wide of the far post
As the teams trudged on into the fifth overtime, it was either going to be a huge mistake that would lead to the winning goal or an extremely special play.
The game-winner would turn out to be the latter -- a thing of beauty -- a sequence that has justifiably become iconic in Flyers' folklore.
Primeau caught up to McGillis' backhand clearing of the Philadelphia zone and picked the puck up along the right wing boards at center ice.
With a full head of steam and bearing in on Darius Kasparaitis as he neared the right faceoff dot, Primeau faked going out wide and instead cut back to the center of the ice, roofing a shortside shot over Tugnutt's shoulder and under the crossbar to end the marathon contest.
It was the first goal of the series for Primeau, who said he decided he would try something different as he entered the zone.
"I'd been going wide a lot, so I crossed him (Kasparaitis) up when I pulled it back. Everybody's been on me to shoot the puck more. I guess I got a good one off."
Tugnutt finished with 70 saves, and said he knew where Primeau was going with the shot but hoped it hadn't gone in.
"I knew it was short side, I was thinking hopefully that it just hit the post."
Reality quickly, and unfortunately, set in for Tugnutt.
"When I looked back, I just went numb."
At 152:01, the game was the longest in modern NHL history, with only a pair of six-overtime playoff contests in the 1930s having been longer. However, the game's elapsed time of 6:56 did set an NHL record, as well as the Flyers' 72 shots and the game's combined 130 shots both setting team records for an overtime tilt.
2004 -- Jeremy Roenick scored his second goal of the game 7:39 into overtime to give the Flyers a 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Center and close out Toronto 4-2 in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
Holding a 3-2 series lead and up 2-0 heading into the third period on the strength of first period goals from Radovan Somik and Roenick, it was looking like Philly would end things in regulation time.
But much like they had done in the second period, Toronto carried play for the final twenty minutes. The Leafs swarmed the Flyers net -- outshooting Philadelphia 11-3 in the third -- coming up with goals from Karel Pilar midway through and Mats Sundin with less than five minutes remaining to send the contest to extra time.
As a matter of fact, Robert Esche had to be very sharp with just over a minute left in regulation to keep the Flyers alive, stopping Tie Domi on a couple of point-blank attempts.
After seeing his club dominated over the last two periods -- the Flyers were outshot 24-7 over the final 40 minutes of regulation play -- head coach Ken Hitchcock told his players to go for the win and to take chances in overtime.
The extra session was fast and furious, with end-to-end action and non-stop drama, especially in the last minute surrounding the game-winning sequence.
Less than a minute before Roenick's series-winner Leafs' forward Darcy Tucker drilled Sami Kapanen into the boards, staggering the Finn to the point where he couldn't even get back up on his skates.
``It was a terrible hit. It was a head shot. I thought those were two cheap shots. They were deliberate attempts to hurt people.'' -- Flyers head coach Ken Hitchcock after the game, noting that Tucker also delivered a similar check in Game 5 that prevented defenseman Vladimir Malakhov from playing in Game 6
With the use of his stick, captain Keith Primeau attempted to help guide a valiant Kapanen back to the Philadelphia bench. As this was going on, Toronto netminder Ed Belfour stoned Mark Recchi on a two-on-one rush.
Shortly after that, Roenick and Tony Amonte embarked on an odd-man rush that would propel the Flyers into the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The charismatic centerman said that when Hitchcock told his team to go for the win just before the extra session, he had envisioned exactly what he was going to do if his chance came up.
``My eyes went wide. It was unbelievable that I got the opportunity, so I knew exactly what I was going to do right from the start. People tell me to shoot, shoot, shoot. Every time I get into a position like that, I pass. I wasn't passing tonight.'' -- Roenick after the game
Roenick snapped his shot over Belfour top shelf, sending the water bottle flying and the Flyers into the conference final.
With his goal in the first period, J.R. became the 48th player in NHL history to score 50 career goals in the postseason..