Return Flight: Snapping the streak in Detroit

After 16 games without a win, the Flyers finally broke through in Michigan.

Throughout the season, we’ll be taking a walk down memory lane whenever the Flyers open their season series against an opponent. We’ll be remembering a game, goal, or highlight Philly created while playing against that particular team. It won’t always be the most notable memory the Orange and Black have against that team, but it’ll be something that Flyers’ fans will want to remember.

On November 4, 1988, Murray Craven beat Greg Stefan with 13 seconds left to give the Philadelphia Flyers a 4-3 win in Detroit over the Red Wings. The win marked their ninth win over the Wings in Detroit dating back to February 14, 1981 and was the second-to-last game in a 15-game stretch for the Orange and Black where they only lost one game at Joe Louis Arena.

Following that win, Philly tied the Red Wings 5-5 in Detroit on November 1, 1989 thanks to Tim Kerr’s second of the game and fifth of the season with 7:49 left in regulation. After this tie, the Flyers proceeded to lose their next six appearances in Michigan, two of which were three-goal losses and one was a four-goal loss.

After this losing streak, Philadelphia provided three straight tilts that looked as though they’d be road wins. To end the six-game skid, the Flyers tied the Wings 2-2 on January 22, 1997 thanks to John LeClair’s 29th of the season with 9:30 left in regulation. After Trent Klatt opened the scoring by beating Mike Vernon with 3:34 left in the opening frame, Nicklas Lidstrom and Vladimir Konstantinov scored 53 seconds apart early in the second to give the home team a lead as they headed to the third period. A little over a year later, Brendan Shanahan scored the game’s lone goal with 3:13 left to extend the Flyers’ winless streak at Joe Louis Arena to eight contests. The following season, on March 28, 1999, Philly lost in overtime thanks to a tally from Wendel Clark in a 3-2 contest.

Over the next ten seasons, the Flyers lost six more times on the road against the Red Wings. This stretch of agony concluded on St. Patrick’s day of 2009, when the visitors gained a 2-0 advantage early in the second period off of a great breakaway goal from Scott Hartnell and a blast from Joffrey Lupul before Detroit scored the final three goals. This loss was the Flyers’ eighth straight in Detroit and extended the franchise’s streak to 16 road games against the Red Wings without a win.

After the teams met in Philly for a 4-3 Flyers’ win late in the 2009-10 campaign, the squads met again at Joe Louis Arena the following season on January 2, 2011. Two teams that lost in the Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NHL playoffs and entered the contest with similar records exited the first period without a goal, as the Red Wings led in shots 9-8 at the end of 20 minutes.

Future former current Flyer James van Riemsdyk gave the visitors a lead just 51 seconds into the middle stanza on a shot from the corner. A little less than four minutes later, Daniel Carcillo nearly provided a beautiful backhanded goal in front before the puck eventually worked its way to the point for a blast from Andrej Meszaros, which Carcillo tipped in for second of the season and his second in as many games against Detroit. With 5:36 left in the period, a Danny Briere centering pass missed everybody and was heading back to the left point when Sean O’Donnell poked the puck past Slovenian superstar Jan Mursak to Hartnell at the bottom of the circle. Hartnell turned around and fired one past Jimmy Howard to put Philadelphia up 3-0 late in the second period.

Although their lengthy winless streak in Michigan looked as though it was about to come to an end, the Flyers didn’t enjoy the easiest closing twenty minutes. After Jimmy Howard, who stopped 24 goals on 27 shots, was replaced by Chris Osgood to start the third period, some guy named Valtteri Filppula put a nice move on Meszaros before he ripped one past Brian Boucher just 51 ticks into the final frame. Halfway through the third period, Ville Leino took the game’s only penalty by interfering with Osgood to give the Wings an opportunity to make it a one-goal tilt, which is exactly what happened. After Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski passed it back and forth at the blue line for a bit, Lidstrom let go off a slap shot that hit Kimmo Timonen in front to create a rebound that Zetterberg backhanded past Boucher with 7:32 left in regulation.

Despite the fact they turned a three-goal deficit into a one-goal deficit, the Red Wings didn’t really come close to tying it in the final few minutes. Detroit threw five pucks at the Flyers’ net over the last 7:32, but only two were on net, as Boucher stopped both Rafalski and Zetterberg in the final 1:19 to hang on for Philadelphia’s first win at Joe Louis Arena since 1988.

The Flyers lost their next two games in Detroit after they snapped the winless streak, but they’re 4-2-1 in their last seven games on the road against the Red Wings. Although they’ve ended up on the right side of these outcomes, the Flyers still needed Jakub Voracek to seal a shootout win in 2016, Brayden Schenn to pot an overtime goal to extend their win streak in 2016-17, and Travis Konecny’s impressive agility to stay onside for an overtime tally back in January. As long as they avoid another lengthy drought, surely the Flyers don’t care how they come by their wins in Detroit.

*Stats via Hockey Reference and

Previous Return Flights