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On This Day in History: Flyers Pull Off Epic Comeback Against Bruins in Game 7

(Elsa/Getty Images)

It’s crazy to think that it’s been 14 years to the day that the Philadelphia Flyers pulled off one of the most storied comebacks in NHL history against the Boston Bruins during the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2010.

Since then we’ve been forced into an era of mediocrity, disappointment, and mismanagement the lights to which this organization has never seen. While we failed to qualify for the postseason yet again, we can always take a trip down memory lane to one of the better memories of the last decade and a half.

The 2009-10 Flyers were doing relatively well, all things considered. They were forced into making a coaching change midseason, offensively no one had more than 62 points, and their goaltending carousel included Ray Emery, Brian Boucher, and journeyman Michael Leighton. When Emery and Boucher went down with injuries, Leighton was thrust into an unenviable position but surprisingly righted the ship.

The Flyers were 37-28-5 heading into the final stretch of the regular season and firmly holding onto a playoff spot. Unfortunately, they then tumbled into a 1-6-1 stretch heading into the final week of the season. They defeated the Detroit Red wings 4-3 and the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0, keeping their playoff hopes alive. It boiled down to a home-and-home against the New York Rangers, who were also looking to snatch the final playoff spot.

The Flyers just needed one victory but dropped the first game 4-3 on the road, setting up a win-and-you’re-in situation in Game 82. It went all the way down to a shootout before the Flyers managed a surprising victory on the heels of Daniel Brière and Claude Giroux beating Henrik Lundqvist and Boucher stopping Olli Jokinen‘s long-winding attempt.

As the Flyers squeaked into the playoffs, they leap-frogged the Montréal Canadiens for seventh place and set up a first round date with the second-seeded New Jersey Devils. The Flyers shocked the Devils in Game 1 with a 2-1 victory, and then the Devils then tied the series with a 5-3 victory in Game 2 before the Flyers took the next three games, including an overtime victory in Game 3 and a shutout performance to close things out in Game 5.

Up next came the Bruins, who jumped ahead to a 3-0 series lead with a 5-4 victory in overtime in Game 1, followed by a 3-2 victory in Game 2 where the game-winner was scored with less than three minutes to go, before a 4-1 victory in Game 3 put the Flyers on the brink of elimination.

Simon Gagné returned in Game 4 and secured the overtime winner, Leighton and Boucher posted a shared shutout in Game 5, and Brière roofed home the game-winner in a 2-1 victory in Game 6 to set up a near improbable seventh game.

The Bruins started out hot with three goals in a span of 8:43 in the first period with Michael Ryder opening the scoring before a quick brace from Milan Lucic. Peter Laviolette took a quick timeout, gave a heartwarming speech, and told Leighton he would not be pulled and this was his game.

James van Riemsdyk put the Flyers on the board at the end of the first after a monstrous hit behind the net from Mike Richards jarred the puck loose. Scott Hartnell then cut into the deficit 2:49 into the second period before Brière tied things up 5:50 later.

With the game tied in the third period, the Bruins committed a bench minor for too many men on the ice, which brought out the Flyers power play in an attempt to take the lead. With the power play winding down, Ville Leino found Richards along the boards before firing a shot with traffic in front of the net. His shot was batted down by Gagné, who then picked up the puck and wired it high-blocker side past Tuukka Rask for the lead.

Gagné only played four games in the series but he scored four goals, including two game-winners, and added an assist. His return seemingly sparked the comeback, aided by Leighton’s heroics in goal after supplanting the injured Boucher and Brière’s five goals and 10 points in the series.

The Flyers then played the eighth-seeded Canadiens, where they defeated them in five games, setting up a Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was the first Final appearance for the Flyers since 1997 but they fell short in winning their first Cup since 1975 as they were defeated in six games.

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