Whether it’s due to the importance of the moment or being shocked by the fact that the puck somehow crossed the goal line, the Philadelphia Flyers have made us jump out of our seats with some spicy goals for over 50 years. Being in the league for that long the team on Broad Street have put home important markers regardless of where they are playing or who they are playing against. In an attempt to fill the void of live goals over the last three months let’s talk about the Flyers’ most meaningful goal against each of the other 30 NHL franchises.
For some franchises, like the Boston Bruins, the answer is easy as to what the Flyers’ most meaningful goal was against that team. However for a decent amount of the clubs it isn’t as easy to decipher. The answers did start to become clearer once things like playoff goals, late game-winning goals, how important the goal was in that particular game, how important the goal was in the season, and how important the goal was in starting/stopping series’ trends against an opponent were factored in. With that out of the way let’s look at Philadelphia’s most meaningful goal against the franchises in the Pacific Division.
With no playoff history against this relatively young Western Conference club, the Philadelphia Flyers’ biggest goal was Wayne Simmonds’ overtime winner early in the 2017-18 campaign. In the third and final game of their California road trip to open the 2017-18 regular season, the Orange and Black headed into their matchup against the Anaheim Ducks 1-1-0 following a win against the San Jose Sharks and a shutout loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Ivan Provorov and Antoine Vermette traded goals in the first period before a Sean Couturier go-ahead goal in the second frame was answered with a Cam Fowler equalizer with 16:20 left in regulation to force overtime.
Simmonds benefitted from some Couturier work in the offensive zone to wire home the game-winner 44 seconds into the extra stanza to give Philly a 3-2 road win. Despite the fact he had earned 34 game-winning goals with the Flyers this was shockingly Simmonds’ second and final OT tally for Philadelphia. For the Flyers it snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Ducks dating back to Claude Giroux’s OT blast to complete a comeback win in December of 2011. It was the organization’s final win during a stretch of 15 straight meetings where they failed to beat Anaheim in regulation spanning from the 2008-09 season to the 2017-18 campaign. The team has now won five of their last six against the Ducks dating back to Simmonds’ overtime marker.
IN CONSIDERATION: Kevin Hayes’ overtime winner earlier this season, Giroux’s overtime winner in 2011, and Nolan Patrick’s late game-winning goal in 2018.
Another Western Conference club the Flyers have never competed against in the playoffs, the Arizona Coyotes are not a team that’s provided the Orange and Black with a ton of memorable goals. Perhaps the most meaningful Flyers’ goal against the Arizona Coyotes’ franchise is Matt Read’s game-winning tally with 18.6 seconds left on November 17, 2011.
James van Riemsdyk opened the scoring in the second period, but Mikkel Boedker evened the score with 16:22 left in regulation to set up Read’s deciding goal. It looked as though it was going to be an innocent ending to the third period to set up overtime until Derek Morris tried to sell the fact he didn’t hook Jakub Voracek. This allowed Voracek to turn around and fling a puck on net to let Max Talbot create a rebound for Read. The deposit was one of Read’s 24 goals and six game-winning goals during his 2011-12 rookie campaign, both totals which will go down as his single-season highs in the NHL.
As for the Flyers’ best goal against the old Winnipeg Jets that honor might go to Ilkka Sinisalo, who will go down as having the only overtime goal in franchise history against the old Jets. It came in a 7-6 win on January 5, 1984 at The Spectrum. It was one of just three overtime goals Sinisalo potted during the regular season or in the playoffs over his career, and was one of his 29 goals during his 46-point campaign in 1983-84.
IN CONSIDERATION: Shayne Gostisbehere’s overtime winner in 2018, Patrick’s SO winner in seventh round back in 2018, and Mike Richards’ OT winner in 2008.
The Flyers’ most meaningful goal against the Calgary Flames’ franchise came off the stick of Dave Schultz on the way to their first Stanley Cup.
The Flyers needed to win three straight best-of-seven series out of a field of eight teams to win the 1974 Stanley Cup Final. Philadelphia, as the top seed in the NHL’s West Division, hosted the Atlanta Flames in the opening round. After taking the first three games of the series by a combined score of 13-3, the Orange and Black found themselves down 3-0 in Game 4 after Rey Comeau’s strike with 3:41 left in the middle period. Thanks to Dupont’s response just 28 seconds later, as well as Gary Dornhoefer’s and Tom Bladon’s tallies within the first 6:34 of the third period, Philly managed to come all the way back to force overtime. Immediately after a neutral zone draw with a little under six minutes into the extra stanza, Schultz received a nice feed from Bobby Clarke to beat Phil Myre to hand the Flyers their first series win in 1974.
The goal gave the Flyers their second playoff series win ever and the first playoff sweep in franchise history. It was the first of two goals in the 1974 postseason for Schultz, as he went on to score in Philly’s 4-2 victory in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. His 139 penalty minutes in 17 games that postseason are the second-most PIMs in a single postseason by a player behind Chris Nilan’s 141 with the Montreal Canadiens in 18 games during the 1986 playoffs.
IN CONSIDERATION: John LeClair’s game-winner with 1:53 left in 1997, Jeremy Roenick’s game-winner with 1:10 left in 2002, Danny Briere’s game-winner with 1:48 left in 2007, and Scott Laughton’s goal to help end a ten-game losing streak in 2017.
Although they went 0-for-2 in Stanley Cup meetings with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980’s, the Flyers still had memorable moments during those runs. The play most fans remember and the play that pushed Philly the closest they ended up being to bringing down those Oilers was J.J. Daigneault’s game-winning goal in Game 6 of the 1987 Stanley Cup Final.
After losing the final four games of a five-game 1985 Stanley Cup Final to Edmonton the Orange and Black got another crack at the dynasty, who was looking to add their third title in a span of four years, in the 1987 Stanley Cup Final. The series didn’t start off great for the good guys, as an Oilers’ three-goal outburst in 8:23 early in the third period led to a 4-2 defeat in Game 1 and Jarri Kurri’s OT goal in Game 2 put Edmonton up 2-0 heading into Game 3. Following a 5-3 win in Game 3 that saw the Flyers erase a three-goal deficit, Philly dropped Game 4 at The Spectrum 4-1 with Wayne Gretzky earning the only assist on each of the Oilers’ first three tallies. Thanks to a Rick Tocchet goal in the third period the Flyers avoided elimination with a 4-3 decision in Game 5 to force the series back to Broad Street.
A shorthanded goal from Kevin Lowe put the Oilers up by one a little over five minutes into Game 6 and Kevin McClelland made it a two-goal hole for Philly late in the first period. Lindsay Carson’s third of the 1987 postseason cut the deficit in half midway through the second period which is where the score stood when Glenn Anderson was sent to the penalty box for high sticking with 7:39 left in regulation. Brian Propp leveled the score with a power-play tally with a little under seven minutes left, which led way to the moment below.
Daigneault’s only playoff goal for the Flyers and one of just nine goals total the defenseman produced for Philly helped the club to a 3-2 victory in Game 6 for a winner-takes-all Game 7. Murray Craven handed the Flyers a lead just 1:41 into Game 7, but the Oilers took the tilt 3-1 for their third Stanley Cup and what ended up being their fifth Cup in a seven-year span. Daigneault’s goal may have not set up the Flyers for a third Stanley Cup, but he did help the 1987 Flyers win a third game against the Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final, which is the number of wins the 1984 New York Islanders, 1985 Flyers, the 1988 Boston Bruins, and the 1990 Bruins combined to win in their Stanley Cup Finals’ series against that Oilers’ dynasty. That, combined with the fact Daigneault’s goal created perhaps the loudest moment in Spectrum history and strengthened the 1986-87 Flyers’ case for being the third-best roster in franchise history, make this the Flyers’ most important goal against the Oilers.
IN CONSIDERATION: Craven’s goal to open Game 7 of the 1987 Stanley Cup Final, Propp’s goal in Game 6 of the 1987 Stanley Cup Final, Brad McCrimmon’s goal in Game 3 of the 1987 Stanley Cup Final, and Tim Kerr’s goal in Game 1 of the 1985 Stanley Cup Final (https://www.hockey-reference.com/boxscores/198505210PHI.html).
Los Angeles Kings
Another Western Conference team without any postseason meetings against, the most important Flyers’ goal against the Los Angeles Kings came from Scott Hartnell in the middle of the 2007-08 campaign.
The Flyers pulled off a pair of upsets during the 2008 postseason when they took down the Washington Capitals in seven games during the opening round before knocking out the top-seeded Montreal Canadiens in the second round. This came after they finished the regular season with 95 points, which put them sixth in the Eastern Conference for the playoffs and three points clear of the ninth-seeded Carolina Hurricanes back when the old playoff format was just the top eight teams in the conference making the second season.
With vital points on the line for the majority of the 2007-08 season the Flyers hosted the Kings at the Wachovia Center on January 29, 2008. After Braydon Coburn opened the scoring just 57 seconds into the second period, Anze Kopitar quickly made the game even again 53 seconds later. The Kings erased another one-goal deficit in the third period, as Simon Gagne’s power-play goal gave Philadelphia a 2-1 advantage with 16:12 left before Matt Moulson leveled the tilt with 7:02 remaining.
This is where the game stood until overtime, where Hartnell won the game following a review from officials. The former Flyer had put the puck in off his skate past Kings’ goalie Jason LaBarbera while sliding towards the net to redirect a Richards’ feed into the cage. Unfortunately there isn’t video of the goal somehow, but here’s an excerpt from NHL.com’s recap of the win:
“A microphone malfunction wouldn’t allow Scott Hartnell to hear Kerry Fraser’s ruling on his overtime goal Tuesday night. So he simply waited for the Wachovia Center crowd to erupt before raising his arms in the air.
‘’When I heard the cheers, I knew we won,’’ Hartnell said.
Hartnell’s sliding goal – which went off his skate before trickling past goalie Jason LaBarbera and into the net with 28.5 seconds to play – not only gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings, it also gave the Flyers sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division.”
The win put an end to a 12-2-1 stretch for Philadelphia and came eight days before the club started a ten-game losing streak where they only compiled two points in the standings. The goal also marked one of just three overtime goals in franchise history against the Kings, as Rod Brind’Amour had the deciding tally in a 5-4 victory on October 10, 1996 and Brayden Schenn posted his own crazy game-winner in a 3-2 win on October 28, 2014.
IN CONSIDERATION: Schenn’s overtime winner in 2014, Wayne Simmonds’ game-winning goal in February of 2014, and Scott Mellanby’s game-winner with 15 seconds left in 1988.
San Jose Sharks
Thanks to the Flyers inability to beat them, the franchise’s most meaningful goal against the San Jose Sharks came from The Captain in a rare win against the club on February 3rd, 2014.
The Orange and Black were on a 2-4-1 slide before the 2014 Olympic break when they had a game against the Sharks (a team they had not beaten since 2000) in San Jose (a place they had registered a win in since 1999). It looked as though it was going to be more of the same 40 minutes into this particular game, as a Mark Streit goal was quickly answered by a pair of tallies from Matt Nieto in the first period set up a one-goal deficit for the Flyers at the start of the third period.
Following a Read wrister to tie it just 1:11 into the third, Michael Raffl cleaned up some garbage in front to restore the lead with 17:31 left in the tilt. On a rush shortly after Raffl’s goal Hartnell managed to keep his skate on the blue line to allow Giroux to fly into the Sharks’ zone for a wrister that squeaked through Antti Niemi for his third goal against in a span of 2:45, which forced Todd McLellan to pull him. Jakub Voracek tacked on another one with Alex Stalock in net with 2:16 left to make the final score 5-2. The win not only snapped a seven-game winless streak (one tie) in San Jose, it also snapped a nine-game losing streak and a 13-game winless streak (two ties) against the Sharks. Unfortunately for the Flyers the win back in 2014 didn’t end the trend of San Jose hammering them, as they have gone 3-7-3 since that big third period.
IN CONSIDERATION: Simmonds’ overtime goal in 2017 and Eric Lindros’ overtime goal in 1997.
Reggie Leach produced 47 playoff goals for the Philadelphia Flyers in seven postseason runs with the club. One of his most important came in the final minute of a game that took place during the 1979 playoffs.
For a few seasons in the late 1970’s the NHL playoffs featured a best-of-three preliminary round, as the top 12 teams in the league during the regular season made the playoffs with the top three teams receiving a bye in this round. In 1979 the Flyers were the overall fourth seed meaning a best-of-3 series against the 12th-seeded Canucks.
Philly dropped the opening game 3-2 at The Spectrum before the teams traveled to Vancouver for a battle in Game 2. Tom Gorence (aka Gorence and the Machine) beat Gary Bromley before the contest was two minutes old, but Don Lever and Dennis Kearns scored 2:01 apart late in the opening frame to give the Canucks an edge. Before the clubs headed to the locker rooms for intermission Leach was able to even the score with his first of the evening. Gorence potted his second of the game just 1:12 into the middle frame, but Thomas Gradin made it 3-3 only 36 seconds later. This is where the score stood until late in the third period.
Ken Linseman secured his first playoff goal in the NHL with 6:24 left in the third period to give the Flyers another one-goal lead, but Gradin personally erased his second of the three one-goal leads the visitors blew in this game to make it a 4-4 tilt with 3:20 left on the clock. With under 60 seconds to play and the Flyers on the verge of being knocked out in the preliminary round, Leach produced his second goal of the night with only 54 seconds to go. Bill Barber added an empty-net goal to push the series to a decisive Game 3 back in Philly, where the good guys rolled over the Canucks 7-2 to advance to the Quarterfinals. The Orange and Black would lose the next round in five games to the New York Rangers, as their series win over the Canucks in 1979 is the only playoff series between the two franchises.
IN CONSIDERATION: Leach’s game-winner in Game 3 of the 1979 series, Simon Gagne’s game-winner with 3 seconds left on New Year’s Eve 2001, and Schenn’s game-tying goal with 46.8 seconds left in 2013.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Flyers are 3-3-0 all-time against the Vegas Golden Knights, as they are in just their third year of existence. With all three of the victories coming in lopsided outcomes the Flyers’ most meaningful tally against Vegas came from Giroux back in 2018.
Philly’s first meeting against the newest NHL team came on February 11, 2018 (a week after the Eagles won the Super Bowl (the one where Nick Foles caught a touchdown pass (and the one where Tom Brady dropped it)) out in Nevada. Despite being outshot 12-7 in the first period, the Flyers entered the second period in a 1-1 tie thanks to Couturier answering Brayden McNabb’s opening goal. In a second period where Vegas outshot Philly 15-7 to put their advantage in the shot count at 27-14 through 40 minutes, it was the away team that found themselves with a 3-1 lead heading into the third. Travis Konecny hit Couturier with a nice high-to-low cross-ice pass for a one-timer that Couturier blasted off of Andrew MacDonald’s skate (who was crashing the net) and past Marc-Andre Fleury for a Philly lead. Couturier created his third goal of the evening by flying down the wing in the Golden Knights’ zone and putting a shot on net that created a rebound for Giroux to slam home with 5.8 seconds left in the period.
Radko Gudas added an empty-net goal to finalize the 4-1 win for the Flyers in the clubs’ first meeting. The win came despite the fact the Flyers were losing the overall shot attempt battle 46-22 through 40 minutes and the fact they were outshot 39-18. The win is one of 16 in franchise history where Philadelphia produced a pair of points in a game where they allowed 35 shots on goal or more and failed to register 20 shots of their own.
IN CONSIDERATION: MacDonald’s goal in 2018, Scott Laughton’s goal in the 2018-19 season opener, and Oskar Lindblom’s goal earlier this season.
*Stats courtesy of NHL.com, Hockey-Reference, and Natural Stat Trick.