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The Flyers’ biggest goal against every Central Division team

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That’s right folks, we got a Michael Del Zotto goal on here.

Stanley Cup Finals - Chicago Blackhawks v Philadelphia Flyers - Game Three Photo by Andre Ringuette/Getty Images

After we looked at the Philadelphia Flyers’ most important goals against the teams in the Pacific Division let’s focus on the rest of the Western Conference clubs in the Central Division. Most of you can probably guess the biggest goal against the Chicago Blackhawks, but Philly’s first playoff overtime goal and another overtime tally that helped to clinch the franchise’s first playoff series also came against organizations in the Central. On top of that a few offensive-minded defensemen in recent history have provided the most notable markers against some teams with a limited history against the hockey club on Broad Street. With that out of the way let’s look at some goals.

Chicago Blackhawks
We’ll start this one off with a pretty easy call, as Claude Giroux’s overtime goal in Game 3 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final is the Flyers’ best goal against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are one of seven teams the Flyers have faced in the Stanley Cup Final and this series was more important to Philly than the clubs’ 1971 Quarterfinals’ meeting (which Chicago swept).

After dropping Games 1 and 2 in Chicago in 6-5 and 2-1 losses respectively, the Orange and Black returned to Philadelphia for Game 3 hoping to keep a realistic chance of winning the 2010 Stanley Cup alive. Danny Briere put the Flyers up first with a late in the first on the power play off a beautiful Scott #HartnellDown feed, which is where the score stood after one. Chicago was able to make it a 2-2 game before the third and grabbed their first lead of the game thanks to Patrick Kane’s conversion on a breakaway with 17:10 left in regulation. Luckily Ville Leino was Johnny-on-the-spot for a game-tying goal just 20 seconds later to help force the tilt to overtime. One second before the six-minute mark of overtime Giroux was able to get a stick on a Matt Carle shot from the point to deflect the puck past Antti Niemi to put the Flyers back into the series with their first victory in a Stanley Cup Final since Game 6 in 1987.

We know how the rest of the series turned out, but this win did help the Flyers even the series before dropping Games 5 and 6. It’s also one of two overtime goals for Philadelphia in the Stanley Cup Final ever with the only other one being Bobby Clarke’s winner in Game 2 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Final. For Giroux it’s one of 12 of his overtime winners with the Flyers and it’s his only one in the postseason.

IN CONSIDERATION: Leino’s game-tying goal in Game 3 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, Leino’s goal in Game 4 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, and Scott Hartnell’s game-tying goal in Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.

Colorado Avalanche
The Flyers’ most important goal against the Colorado Avalanche franchise came a little over 35 years ago when the franchise went by a different name. Dave Poulin has Philly’s most critical goal against the Avs’ organization and it came in a 3-0 series-clinching Game 6 win over the Quebec Nordiques in 1985 to help send the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final.

After he potted 31 goals and registered 76 points in 73 games in 1983-84, Poulin was named the team’s captain starting in the 1984-85 season. He helped the club finish first in the league with a 53-20-7 record for 113 points before they swept the New York Rangers in a best-of-five Patrick Division Semifinals and needed five games to take out the New York Islanders in the following round before facing the Nordiques in the Eastern Conference Final.

This would make it sound like Poulin’s 1984-85 campaign was going pretty well, but the man was taking a physical beating. The captain battled a groin pull throughout the regular season before tearing a ligament in the team’s second postseason game against the Rangers to miss the rest of the first and all of the second round of the 1985 playoffs. After he returned for the start of the Quebec series, Poulin took a crack to the midsection from defenseman Mario Marois in Game 2 to suffer broken ribs. He missed Games 3 and 4 before returning (wearing a flak jacket for protection) for the Flyers’ 2-1 win in Game 5 to set up a potential series-clinching win in Game 6 back in Philadelphia.

Rick Tocchet put the hosts up by one late in the first period, but things weren’t looking great early in the second period. Joe Paterson and Brian Propp took penalties 37 seconds apart to hand Quebec a 5-on-3 for 1:23 just 1:08 into the middle frame. At perhaps the most critical point of the series Poulin exacted his revenge on Marois by intercepting a pass of his in the Flyers’ zone before skating down the ice and beating Mario Gosselin to make it 2-0 Philly 2:11 into the second. Doug Crossman put home his fourth goal of the 1985 postseason later in the period to help the Flyers win 3-0 to advance to their fifth Stanley Cup Final.

As for goals against the Colorado Avalanche there haven’t been that many significant tallies. They have only faced the Nordiques in the postseason so far and there haven’t been a lot of important late-season meetings with this Western Conference club. With that in mind the Flyers’ most important goal against this franchise since they moved to Colorado might be Giroux’s game-winning goal in Philly’s 4-2 win in Denver on March 24th, 2016. The Orange and Black needed every point they could grab down the stretch in 2016 and found themselves down 2-1 with 13:47 left thanks to a goal from John Mitchell. Radko Gudas managed to tie the game with 5:43 remaining before The Captain cradled a rebound to help deposit a goal just 19 seconds later for the game-winner. Philadelphia went on to clinch a playoff spot with a win in the second-to-last game of the season against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

IN CONSIDERATION: Tocchet’s opening goal in Game 6 of the 1985 Eastern Conference Final, Paul Holmgren’s goal in Game 5 of the 1981 Preliminary Round, and Ivan Provorov’s game-winner in March of 2018.

Dallas Stars
Similar to the Avalanche, the Flyers’ most important goal came against the Dallas Stars’ franchise when they were located in another city and had a different nickname. Gary Dornhoefer’s overtime goal in Game 5 of the Flyers’ 1973 Quarterfinals series against the Minnesota North Stars is the most important Philadelphia goal against the Stars’ organization.

After they failed to win any of their three playoff series in their first five years of existence the Flyers squared off against the North Stars in the first round of the 1973 postseason. The teams split the first four games with Minnesota posting shutouts in Games 1 and 3 while Philly took three-goal contests in Games 2 and 4 to set up a pivotal Game 5 back at The Spectrum.

Minnesota’s Danny Grant opened the scoring halfway through the first period of Game 6 before Rick MacLeish retaliated 36 seconds later to tie it and went on to grab a lead for the home team early in the second period. Bill Goldsworthy tied it with exactly seven minutes left to force the game into overtime, where Dornhoefer drove to the net and beat goalie Cesare Maniago to give Philly a 3-2 series lead. They won their first playoff series two days later with a 4-1 win in Minnesota to advance to the Semifinals, where they lost in five games to the eventual Stanley Cup winners in the Montreal Canadiens. Dornhoefer’s lone overtime goal was the team’s second playoff overtime goal ever and the first one to decide a game in the first overtime (more on that later).

As for the best tally against the Dallas Stars that honor might go to Leino. With no playoff history against the team while in Dallas and the only two overtime winners against the club coming in early regular season meetings (Shayne Gostisbehere’s in 2017 came in December and Giroux’s in 2014 came in October) there is no clear choice.

After proving to be one of the best teams in the league for most of the 2010-11 campaign the Orange and Black started to slide towards the end of the regular season. In the midst of a 3-4-2 slide looking to clinch a playoff spot, Leino avoided a sliding Kari Lehtonen and glided the puck over the goal line in the sixth round of the shootout to lock the Flyers into a 2011 playoff spot. The team proceeded to get swept in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the eventual Cup-winning Boston Bruins, but Leino’s decisive tally in Texas was still important.

IN CONSIDERATION: Giroux’s overtime winner for first win of 2014-15, Wayne Simmonds’ game-winner in March of 2014, and Reggie Leach’s goal in Game 5 of the 1980 Semifinals.

Minnesota Wild
Considering how quiet the Flyers’ history is against them it should come as no surprise that Michael Del Zotto’s overtime winner during the 2015-16 season is the organization’s most important goal against the Minnesota Wild. It’s the only time Philly needed more than 60 minutes to beat the Wild and the extra point in the standings was crucial.

The Flyers needed every point they could get when they traveled to Minnesota on January 7th, 2016, as their 96 points during the 2015-16 campaign was just enough to land the second Wild Card spot. The visitors blew a pair of leads to find themselves in overtime, as Marco Scandella erased a 1-0 lead late in the first and a 3-1 advantage created by strikes from Del Zotto and Ryan White 52 seconds apart halfway through the second frame were canceled out by tallies from Jason Zucker and Zach Parise. The score was 3-3 as the tilt moved into overtime where Del Zotto was the benefactor of a beautiful passing play and cashed the winner in off a feed from Jakub Voracek. The play is still Del Zotto’s lone overtime goal in the NHL.

IN CONSIDERATION: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s diving game-winner in February of 2016 and Branko Radivojevic’s game-winner with 53 seconds left in December of 2005.

Nashville Predators
The Flyers’ biggest goal against the Nashville Predators came from Shayne Gostisbehere in a 3-2 win on Black Friday in 2015. Without any playoff history against this younger Western Conference club, Philadelphia’s most critical goal against the Preds came in overtime from a d-man that was about to go on a tear.

After he appeared in a pair of contests in 2014-15, Gostisbehere got his real first shot at the league in mid-November of 2015. In his first game that season, which came against the Carolina Hurricanes on November 14th, he whipped out The Ghost Shimmy to put a shot on net that Simmonds was able to redirect in late in the third period to force overtime in an eventual 3-2 win for Philly in Carolina. The team’s next game was a 3-2 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings in Philly where Gostisbehere was able to crank home a slap shot from the point on the power play for his first goal in the NHL. Three games and six days later the Flyers were involved in another overtime contest against the Canes when Gostisbehere blasted home his first overtime winner in the NHL. Philly lost their next game to the New York Islanders the day before Thanksgiving in 2015, but two days later back at the Wells Fargo Center Gostisbehere was able to rocket home his second overtime winner in just five days. It’s the Flyers only overtime goal against Nashville and one of three times they needed more than 60 minutes to beat the Preds.

That goal gave Gostisbehere three goals and two assists for five points in his first seven games of 2015-16. He went on to post 17 goals that season with four coming in overtime on the way to a 46-point campaign in 64 nights of work to finish second in Calder voting to Artemi Panarin. Gostisbehere’s 17 goals that year are one of nine times in franchise history a Flyers’ d-man scored 17 goals or more in a single season and the first time a rearguard hit the mark since Steve Duchesne’s 18 in 1991-92. His four OT goals in 2015-16 are the most for a Flyer in one season, as Jeff Carter (2008-09) and Joni Pitkanen (2005-06) are tied for the second most with three. Behind Gostisbehere’s rookie outburst the hockey team on Broad Street finished 2015-16 on a 17-6-4 run to earn a playoff spot in the second-to-last game of the regular season with a 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

IN CONSIDERATION: Michael Raffl’s game-winner to extend ten-game winning streak in 2016, Rod Brind’Amour’s game-winner on April Fools Day 1999, and Joffrey Lupul’s goal in March of 2009.

St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues have played a pivotal role in the Flyers’ history, but it’s mainly due to them beating the crap out of Philly’s hockey club in the late 1960’s. While enduring the two series that helped cause the creation of The Broad Street Bullies, Don Blackburn potted a goal in double overtime of Game 6 of the 1968 Quarterfinals to land Philly’s most important goal against the Blues.

The Flyers have only seen the Blues in the postseason twice and they came in back-to-back playoffs in 1968 and 1969. Following a 31-32-11 regular season the Flyers finished first in the league’s West Division, which was made up of the six new teams the league added while the East Division was made up of the Original Six teams, to face St. Louis in their first playoff series in franchise history. Philly was shutout in Game 1 to lose home ice advantage and found themselves in a 3-1 hole when the clubs returned to The Spectrum for Game 5. A Rosaire Paiement hat trick gave Philly a resounding 6-1 victory to force a Game 6 in St. Louis.

The possible elimination game didn’t start great for the Orange and Black, as Gerry Melnyk beat Bernie Parent with a little under two minutes left in the first period. This was the only goal of the tilt until Andre Lacroix beat Glenn Hall with only 15 seconds left in the Flyers’ 1968 postseason to force the game to extra time. After the teams failed to decide a winner in the first overtime, Blackburn potted the first playoff overtime goal in team history in the second extra stanza to let Philly take part in their first Game 7 ever.

Philadelphia went on to lose Game 7 by a score of 3-1, but that doesn’t take away from the importance of Blackburn’s tally. The overtime winner in Game 6 is one of just five goals the Flyers have scored in the second overtime of a playoff game or later and is the third-longest contest in team history. Ironically for this low-scoring affair the Blues’ 64 shots against are the most an opponent has posted against the Orange and Black in a single playoff game and it marks one of 35 times the Flyers have had a postseason game with 43 shots on goal or more.

2 OT playoff games in Flyers’ history

Date Playoff game Opponent Final score Goal scorer OT period OT time
Date Playoff game Opponent Final score Goal scorer OT period OT time
May 4, 2000 Game 4, 2000 ECSF Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 Keith Primeau 5 92.01
April 16, 2003 Game 4, 2003 ECQF Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 Mark Recchi 3 53.54
April 16, 1968 Game 6, 1968 QF St. Louis Blues 2-1 Don Blackburn 2 31.18
April 17, 2008 Game 4, 2008 ECQF Washington Capitals 4-3 Mike Knuble 2 26.4
April 11, 1980 Game 3, 1980 Preliminary Edmonton Oilers 3-2 Ken Linseman 2 23.56

The teams met again in the 1969 Quarterfinals where the Blues swept the Flyers. On top of being outscored 17-3 in the four-game series, Philly was physically outmatched in the series which led to former owner Ed Snider’s decision to start making the Flyers a tougher team overall.

IN CONSIDERATION: Leon Rochefort’s game-winner in Game 2 of 1968 Quarterfinals, Lacroix’s game-tying goal with 15 seconds left in Game 6 of 1968 Quarterfinals, and Voracek’s overtime winner this season.

Winnipeg Jets
For the second time in this article Gostisbehere’s rookie season and the Flyers’ run to the 2016 postseason appear, as Giroux’s overtime tally in March of 2016 is Philly’s biggest goal against the Winnipeg Jets’ franchise.

As mentioned above the Flyers closed out the 2015-16 campaign strong to claim one of the wild card spots in the playoffs. After coming out 5-8-3 to start the season, Philadelphia went 36-19-11 once Gostisbehere made his season debut to finish 41-27-14 for 96 points and the second wild card in the Eastern Conference for the 2016 postseason. With uncertainty as to whether or not they would make the playoffs, the Orange and Black hosted Winnipeg with only eight games remaining on their schedule.

After the teams skated through a goalless opening period in Philadelphia, Mark Streit opened the scoring 41 ticks into the second frame and Simmonds made it a two-goal advantage with 14:50 left in the stanza. Mark Scheifele quickly made it a one-goal game again and Blake Wheeler beat Steve Mason early in the third period for a 3-3 affair with 17:25 left. This is where the score stood until the end of regulation and it looked as though this is what the score would be when the shootout started, but Gostisbehere and Giroux had different ideas.

With under 30 seconds left in overtime Giroux led a 2-on-1 with Gostisbehere against Scheifele when The Captain attempted a cross-ice pass to the 2012 draft pick that Scheifele was able to break up. Scheifele had knocked the puck back slightly towards the Jets’ blue line and attempted to break up ice with the disc when Gostisbehere, who had fallen to his knees after the pass breakup, managed to knock the hunk of rubber out of Scheifele’s possession. Gostisbehere gloved the loose puck and quickly put it his stick on it to set up Giroux for the winner past Ondrej Pavelec with 13.6 seconds left. It’s the fifth and most recent overtime goal against the Winnipeg Jets’ franchise as well as one of six tilts the Flyers have won against the organization once the game went past 60 minutes.

As for the team’s most important tally against the Atlanta Thrashers that honor should go to Carter. The Flyers were the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference with 95 points during a surprisingly deep 2008 playoff run with the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins claiming the final two playoff spots with 94 points. Philly can point to the Thrashers as a reason they were able to work their way into a playoff spot, as the Flyers went 4-0-0 against Atlanta during the 2007-08 regular season.

The last of those four meetings came on March 18th, 2008 at the Wachovia Center. Former Flyer Mark Recchi was sent to the sin bin with 59 seconds remaining in the second period of a 1-1 game when Carter was able to redirect a Kimmo Timonen point shot past Lehtonen (second time he’s been on the wrong side of one of these goals) with 2.6 seconds left for a 2-1 lead heading into the third. Vinny Prospal made it a two-goal game with under 12 minutes to play before Ilya Kovalchuk’s 50th of the season came with 29.9 ticks left to finalize the score at 3-2. This victory was the start of a 7-1-1 clip for the Orange and Black to close out the regular season.

IN CONSIDERATION: Jaromir Jagr’s overtime goal in 2012, Simon Gagne’s game-winner on the penalty shot with 1:01 left in 2004, and Andrew MacDonald’s game-winner in March of 2018.

*Stats courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers’ official website, NHL.com, and Hockey-Reference.

The biggest Flyers’ goals against each NHL franchise