May 5, 1974
When a playoff series goes the full seven games, it is a win or go home situation. In the case of the Philadelphia Flyers, that one win would mean the berth into the first Stanley Cup Finals in team history against the Boston Bruins.
They needed to play their best 60 minutes in front of 17,077 rabid fans at the Spectrum to once and for all dispose of the New York Rangers and achieve that goal.
The Flyers fell behind 1-0 halfway through the first period on a Rangers goal by Bill Fairbairn, but the New York lead was short lived. Less than a minute later on the power play, sniper Rick MacLeish scored his 11th of the playoffs to knot the game at one. The Flyers out-shot the Rangers, 18-9, in the first, but had just the one goal to show for it.
In the second period, the Flyers jumped ahead on an unassisted goal by Orest Kindrachuk at 2:27. The Flyers gained more momentum after killing off an Ed Van Impe holding minor at the 6:29 mark.
With the Flyers peppering Ranger goalie Ed Giacomin, including a great save on MacLeish on a breakaway, forward Gary Dornhoefer knocked home a rebound that gave the Flyers a two-goal lead at 11:26 of the period. It was Dornhoefer's 4th goal of the playoffs. The Flyers were dominant, out-shooting the Rangers again, 19-10, for the period and 27-19 for the game as they headed to the third period.
Although the Flyers killed off a Bobby Clarke minor for hooking at 3:59, the Rangers pressure continued to build. Steve Vickers beat Bernie Parent off of a great series of passes from Fairbairn and Walt Tkaczuk to cut the lead to one with just over 11 minutes to play. The Flyers would jump ahead by two again, thanks to the tenacity of the line of MacLeish, Dornhoefer and Ross Lonsberry just 12 seconds later.
This goal stunned the Rangers and gave the Flyers breathing room once again. With Dornhoefer heading to the net, Lonsberry stripped the puck off of Rangers all-star defenseman Brad Park behind the net and found him all alone to slam it home.
As the game was winding down, the Flyers had a few great scoring chances, a couple hitting the post as they could have extended their lead further. With just 5:26 left and just three seconds after a minor to Don Saleski ended, the Rangers cut the lead to one on a Pete Stemkowski goal.
For the final five minutes, the Flyers shut down the Rangers, frustrating them by denying them any chance to mount any sustained pressure. As Clarke skated back through center ice towards his goal with the seconds counting down, the Flyers celebrated their Game 7 victory and a chance to win their first Stanley Cup.
Highlights from the game can be seen below.
Mike Watson is a contributing writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on twitter @Mwats_99.