The 2003-04 Flyers were no doubt one of the beloved teams of the decade —and perhaps more— in recent history, and added an iconic memory to their story on this very date.
Trailing Tampa Bay 3-2 in the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals and their backs against the wall back at home, the Flyers found themselves just 20 minutes away from elimination trailing 4-3 entering the third period.
Two Vincent Lecavalier goals sandwiched around a pair of Ruslan Fedotenko goals gave the opposing Lightning the edge over Flyers goals from Keith Primeau, Simon Gagne, and Sami Kapanen to that point, but the Orange and Black weren’t about to be done on this night.
The Flyers peppered Nikolai Khabibulin to the tune of 43 shots on the night and finally wore down the Lightning netminder late in regulation with a gratuitous bounce pin balling and finding the blade of Primeau to ram home with just 1:49 left in regulation to tie things up at 4-4. As Primeau extended his hand up to the roof of the then-Wachovia Center exploded, though the eruption would soon become a distance second to the next roar heard from those clad in orange throughout the arena about 20 minutes of game action later.
Jeremy Roenick fought off a defender around the Lightning net and sent a centering pass that pin balled across the crease and right to the waiting stick of Gagne, who hammered the loose puck home and punched the Flyers’ ticked to game seven in Tampa with a 5-4 overtime win.
(Side note: what incredible and timeless calls from Gary Thorne, the best to ever do it in hockey)
For Gagne —who had just three goals in the postseason entering the day— it was a sublime moment to be the man to rescue it all after a terrific regular season that followed with unlucky playoff success to date. For the Flyers it kept their season alive following a wildly successful regular season and a playoff run that included impressive series wins over the Devils and Maple Leafs.
Though the Flyers would ultimately lose game seven in Tampa, the legends of Primeau and Gagne both grew tenfold that night in Philadelphia and the roars that those dramatic goals produced still stand as a couple of the the loudest moments to ever occur during a sporting event in the city.
Also on May 20th in franchise history...the 1974 team celebrates the franchises’ first ever Stanley Cup with a parade down Broad Street to the delight of a raucous crowd...the infamous “fog” game takes place in Buffalo during game three of the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals where play had to be stopped multiple times due to ice conditions and even for a bat that flew down from the rafters...the Sabres won the game 5-4 to draw closer in the series but the Flyers would get the last laugh overall...