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Return Flight: Hartnell and Laperriere throw hands

Another future Flyer dropped the gloves in the same game.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final didn’t result in the Orange and Black winning the ultimate prize, but it was one of the more incredible rides in franchise history. After being 29th in the standings in late December of 2010, the Flyers squeaked into the postseason with the famous Game 82 shootout win over Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers. From there they beat the second-seeded New Jersey Devils in five games, reverse swept the Boston Bruins, and ended the Montreal Canadiens’ attempt at owning the underdog story of the 2010 postseason. Although they came up short against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Final a lot of the players and moments from that run will stick with fans forever.

Two players most fans won’t forget are Scott Hartnell and Ian Laperriere. Hartnell’s 2009-10 regular season was a little underwhelming with 14 goals (his lowest for an 82-game season with Philly) and 30 assists for 44 pts in 81 games. The former Nashville Predator made up for it in the postseason with eight goals and nine assists for 17 points in 23 games while helping to form the team’s most productive line. After former head coach Peter Laviolette grouped them together for Game 4 against the Bruins in Eastern Conference Semifinals, Hartnell went on to record 15 points (eight goals and seven helpers) over the final 15 games of the run while his linemates Danny Briere (eight goals and 13 helpers for 21 points over the same span) and Ville Leino (seven goals and 12 assists for 19 points) offensively powered the Flyers to the Final. Hartnell didn’t score until Game 5 of the Boston series, but he also scored in Game 7 of that series and five goals in the Final.

Laperriere’s presence in the 2010 postseason was less about point production and more about sacrificing himself for the good of the team. In addition to his one assist in 13 games, Laperriere provided one of the most memorable moments of those playoffs in the final minutes of the Orange and Black’s series against the Devils. While out on the penalty kill early in the third period of Game 5, Laperriere dropped down to block a Paul Martin slap shot and paid the price.

A concussion and a fractured right orbital bone resulted in Laperriere missing 10 games before he returned to the lineup in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final. He returned with a full shield, but didn’t change his game and continued to lay down to block shots because that’s just Lappy.

A season before the 2010 playoffs Hartnell was still in Philly, but Laperriere was playing in his fourth and final season with the Colorado Avalanche. Lappy had four goals, eight assists, and 72 penalty minutes 30 games into the 2008-09 campaign as the 15-14-1 Avs rolled into Philadelphia on December 16th. Colorado had beaten the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 the night before in the Motor City thanks to goals from (let’s remember some guys) Wojtek Wolski, Paul Stastny, and Jordan Leopold. The Flyers entered the mid-December matchup with a record of 16-7-6 after a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins to extend their win streak to four games with a record of 5-0-1 over the last six games. Hartnell had ten goals and nine apples for 19 points and 45 PIMs 29 games into the season including a hat trick and a fight against the Carolina Hurricanes in a somewhat-forgotten four-goal third period comeback just five days before.

Stastny opened the scoring with a nice move in front just six seconds into a Colorado power play and 9:23 into the contest. The Flyers managed to exit the first period with a lead however, as Mike Knuble provided a power play goal of his own a little over two minutes after Stastny’s and Jeff Carter gained the lead thanks to a beautiful feed from Simon Gagne on a shorthanded rush late in the frame. The second period opened with Arron Asham most likely regretting dropping the gloves against a long-time-in-the-making future Flyer.

Following that bout Joffrey Lupul took his sweet time with the puck in the offensive zone before he ripped one home past Peter Budaj for an insurance tally with 8:36 left in the second period. It took only 46 seconds after Lupul’s goal for Hartnell and Laperriere to mix it up.

The Flyers extended their lead to three thanks to Mike Richards’ 13th of the season 32 seconds after the fight, but David Jones (lmao, David Jones) made it a two-goal game again with 1:21 left in the middle stanza. Simon Gagne reinstated the three-goal difference on the man advantage with just under 18 minutes left in regulation while Leopold sat in the sin bin for hooking. Antero Niittymaki denied 29 of the Avs’ 31 shots on goal in the tilt to conclude the team’s five-game winning streak.

Hartnell went on to finish the 2008-09 season with 60 points (30 goals and 30 assists) in 82 games before he chipped in a goal and an assist in a six-game loss to the Pens in the playoffs. Laperriere finished his season with seven goals, 12 assists, and 163 PIMs in 74 games as Colorado finished last in the Western Conference with 69 points (N.I.C.E.). He went on to sign a three-year deal with the Flyers on the first day of free agency in 2009 and we, ah, kind of know what he’s up to nowadays.