THE HISTORY OF GAME 7
Game 7. Just saying it aloud sends chills down your spine. It means both teams, who have slugged and scrapped and scraped and clawed for six games only to find themselves dead even enter the deciding game with the same thing on the line:
Win and you move on to the next step of your quest, lose and you go home licking your wounds.
For a Flyers team rich in playoff history, this marks the 16th time in 68 seven-game series’ played that a Game 7 was reached.
The Flyers have gone 9-6 in the previous 15 incarnations of Game 7 (Meanwhile, the Rangers are 6-5 all-time).
Here is a look back at the previous 15 Game 7’s in Flyers history:
April 16, 1968: Glenn Hall makes 26 saves as the St. Louis Blues defeat the Flyers 3-1 in a matchup of two of the better expansion franchises in their first year of existence. The Flyers trailed in the series 3-1 before fighting back to even the series which included a dramatic win in Game 6 in St. Louis. Andre Lacroix tied the game with 15 seconds remaining in regulation and then Don Blackburn scored in double overtime to force the Game 7. Bill Sutherland, who scored the first goal in franchise history, scored the final Flyers goal of the season as well, notching the lone score in the loss.
May 5, 1974: In talking to Bob Kelly, the 1974 semifinals series with the New York Rangers was – and still is – considered by many to be the most physical playoff series in playoff history. The Flyers were tested by the pesky Rangers before advancing to win their first Stanley Cup. However, in this Game 7 at the Spectrum, Gary Dornhoefer scored twice and Bernie Parent made 31 saves as the Flyers won 4-3 to advance to their first Stanley Cup Final.
May 13, 1975: After coughing up a 3-0 series lead to the New York Islanders, the Flyers were on the brink of being on the wrong side of history. The Islanders had won an opening round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins after trailing 3-0 becoming just the second team in pro sports history to overcome that deficit. Looking to do it in consecutive series’, the Isles tried to steal some of the Flyers mojo by presenting good luck charm Kate Smith with flowers and lining up to shake her hand at a rare in-person performance of God Bless America before the game. It didn't work as their efforts were thwarted by a Rick MacLeish hat trick as the Flyers won 4-1 and went on to the Stanley Cup Final where they would defend their crown with a series win over Buffalo.
April 25, 1976: The Flyers used a five goal barrage in the second period, two of which were scored by Mel Bridgman, as they clobbered the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 at the Spectrum in the Quarterfinals. The series was the first in Flyers franchise history in which every game was won by the home team. The Flyers would go on to defeat Boston in five games in the semifinals to reach their third consecutive Stanley Cup Final before being swept by the Montreal Canadiens, who won the first of their four consecutive Stanley Cups.
April 26, 1981: Pat Riggin made 31 saves as the Calgary Flames shocked the Flyers on Spectrum ice with a 4-1 win to steal the Quarterfinals series. The Flyers had gotten behind in the series 3-1 but fought back to tie the series including a gutsy 3-2 win in Calgary in Game 6 behind a pair of goals by Ken Linseman and 34 saves by Rick St. Croix, but the Flyers were out of energy against the younger, speedier Flames and were unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs.
May 2, 1987: Up 3-1 in the Patrick Division Finals against the New York Islanders, the young and talented Flyers watched the series lead slip away and had to return to the Spectrum for a Game 7 against a veteran Islanders squad. On edge in the game when Lindsay Carson took a penalty in the first period, the Flyers suddenly became an elated and confident bunch after both Brian Propp and Brad Marsh scored shorthanded goals on the same penalty kill to open up the game. The Flyers won going away 5-1 and eventually reached the Stanley Cup Final.
May 31, 1987: Marking the only season in which the Flyers played two Game 7’s, this Stanley Cup Final has long been remembered as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, final series in Stanley Cup history. The cardiac Flyers, seemingly down and out several times in the series forced Game 7 with three come-from-behind wins against the greatest team ever assembled – Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers. The Flyers scored first in Game 7 – a power play goal by Murray Craven – but maybe that was a bad omen, as it was the first time the Flyers scored first in the entire series. Mark Messier tied it later in the first period and Jari Kurri gave Edmonton the lead with a late second period goal. The Flyers pushed for the tie, but Grant Fuhr was excellent, and finally Glenn Anderson put the series away with a goal late in the third period. Still, Ron Hextall made 40 saves in the game and was named winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP – one of only three players from a losing team to win the award in league history (Reggie Leach of the Flyers in 1976 and Jean-Sebastian Giguere of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003 were the others). By the way... how about young Coatesy in the beginning of the video tribute below?
April 16, 1988: In what many hoped would end with a rematch with the Oilers in the Finals, the 1988 playoffs left bitter disappointment. The Flyers jumped out to a 3-1 series lead over the Washington Capitals, winning a dramatic Game 4 in overtime after erasing a 4-1 deficit in a nine-minute span in the third period before capping it off with an OT-winner by Murray Craven. The Caps fought back to tie the series with two commanding victories, but the Flyers were poised to shut them down in Game 7, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in Washington. However, they blew the lead, letting the Caps go ahead 4-3. Brad Marsh tied it again to force overtime, but Dale Hunter broke Philadelphians hearts with a breakaway goal to win the series in the extra session. The Caps were eliminated in the second round and Edmonton won the Cup again in an anti-climactic sweep of the Boston Bruins.
April 29, 1989: With Ron Hextall injured and the Flyers having a hard enough time as it was building any momentum in a series against Pittsburgh, they had to turn to backup goalie Ken Wregget for a crucial Game 7 at the Igloo. All Wregget did was make 39 saves, turning in one of the most memorable goaltending performances in franchise history as the Flyers won their first Game 7 road game 4-1 and advanced to the Wales Conference Finals.
May 26, 2000: The Flyers were one win from the Stanley Cup Finals. They had a 3-1 series lead on the New Jersey Devils and Eric Lindros, their best player, was returning from a lengthy injury. What could go wrong? The Flyers lost a lethargic game 5 at home, and dropped a nail biter in New Jersey to force a Game 7. In the game, Lindros was crushed by a hit to the jaw by Devils defenseman Scott Stevens. It would be his last game as a Flyer. Rick Tocchet scored a power play goal to tie the score, but Patrick Elias tallied his second goal of the game with a little more than two minutes remaining beating Brian Boucher with the shot to send the Devils to the Finals and the Flyers home for the summer in one of the most deflating defeats in franchise history.
April 22, 2003: After playing six overtime games in three games in Toronto, the Flyers came home for Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Leafs and played with a purpose. Mark Recchi scored twice and the Flyers won easily 6-1 and advance to the second round.
May 22, 2004: In a thrilling Eastern Conference Finals series with Tampa Bay, the Flyers went back to western Florida for Game 7 after alternating wins and losses through the first six games. With their defense depleted and forward Sami Kapanen forced to play on the blue line, the Flyers gave a gutsy effort against the talented Bolts. But, it wasn’t enough. Ruslan Fedotenko and Fredrik Modin scored for Tampa and Nikolai Khabibulin made 22 saves to vault the Lightning to the Finals. This was the last time the Flyers lost a Game 7.
April 22, 2008: After a surprising turnaround season following the worst finish in franchise history a season earlier, the Flyers went up against Southeast Division champion Washington as a serious underdog in the first round. However, they built a 3-1 series lead before Washington stormed back to even the series. Game 7 in D.C. was played at a furious pace, especially in the third period as the Caps outshot the Flyers 16-5, only to be turned aside on every shot by a focused Martin Biron. The game went to overtime where Joffrey Lupul banged home the game-winner, stunning the Caps home crowd and vaulting the upstart Flyers to the second round.
May 14: 2010: The Flyers became just the fourth team in pro sports history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit and win a seven-game series, but they were the only team to do it when trailing in Game 7 as well. Down 3-0 to the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden, the Flyers got a first period goal by James van Riemsdyk, second period tallies by Scott Hartnell and Daniel Briere and a game-winner from Simon Gagne in the third period to pull off the greatest comeback in pro sports history. Michael Leighton, making just his second start in place of injured goalie Brian Boucher, had 22 saves to earn the win.
April 26, 2011: There was really no reason for this Flyers team to be facing elimination in Game 6 in Buffalo, but they were. A furious comeback and an overtime goal by Ville Leino sent the series back to Philadelphia for Game 7 and the Flyers came out in dominating fashion. They outshot the Sabres 16-2 in the first period with Braydon Coburn finally breaking the ice in the final minute of the frame. The Flyers poured it on from there getting power play goals from Daniel Briere and James van Riemsdyk before third period goals from Leino and Daniel Carcillo iced a 5-2 win.
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