April 24 in Flyers history has proved to be quite important in terms of a date for the team to stave off playoff elimination.
The first instance was back in 1981 when the Flyers forced a game seven in their Stanley Cup Quarterfinal series against the Flames with a 3-2 win on the road in Calgary. Ken “The Rat” Linesman scored twice and Bobby Clarke added another in the win, which followed a Flyers win in game after trailing 3-1 in the series. Despite extending the series on multiple occasions, the rally took its toll and the Flyers were downed 4-1 back at the Spectrum in game seven to lose the series after all.
The second was more recently in 2010-11 when the Flyers needed a road win in game six on the road in Buffalo to extend their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Sabres. After cruising through the regular season and earning the second seed behind the Capitals, the Flyers fell flat to start out against the Sabres. They were shutout by Ryan Miller twice in the first four games and needed a Ville Leino goal just under five minutes into the first overtime to earn a game seven back at the Wells Fargo Center.
In game six the Flyers trailed 3-1 at one point, saw their starting netminder pulled (yet again), and needed a Scott Hartnell goal in the second half of the third period to even see themselves to the extra session. Brian Boucher was terrific in relief of Michael Leighton, though, and turned aside 24 of 25 shots to give the Flyers a chance to live to see another day.
The momentum carried over to game seven, where the Flyers scored the first four goals and cruised to a 5-2 win to take the series over the pesky Sabres.
Of course Leino’s heroics wouldn’t last long as the Flyers were unceremoniously swept by the Bruins in the next round in vengeance of their historic blown 3-0 series lead to Philadelphia the previous year. In the end, Boston got the last laugh as they cruised on their way to the Stanley Cup in 2011 while the Flyers are left waiting for their chance to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
But the joke is always on the Sabres, who handed Leino a six-year contract worth $27 million that summer on July 1st that they’d buy out halfway through. After scoring a career-high 19 goals with the Flyers in 2010-11, he’d score just 10 more in his NHL career while finishing the last 58 games of it without scoring a lone goal.
*Shouts to hockeyreference.com and nhl.com for the trip down memory lane*