Flyers at 50: Building the Streak Against the Defending Champs

 

Flyers history 50

October 21, 1979

Riding a three-game winning streak, the Philadelphia Flyers were looking to make it four in a row against the Montreal Canadiens down at the Spectrum. It would be the Flyers first game of a four-game home stand.

The Canadiens were one of the NHL’s top teams, led by legends like Guy LaFleur and Larry Robinson. Many of the tilts between the Flyers and the Canadiens in the '70s were memorable ones — you can add this game to that list.

The Flyers jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first period on a pair of goals by Bill Barber and defenseman Norm Barnes. When Flyers rookie Brian Propp scored on the power play just 1:57 into the second period, this game was close to being a blowout.

However, these were the Montreal Canadiens, the defending Stanley Cup Champions.

Montreal’s Yvon Lambert scored on the power play to make it 4-1 less than a minute after Propp’s goal, then LaFleur beat Flyers netminder Phil Myre at 4:32 and the lead was quickly cut in half.

The Flyers responded just over a minute later on the power play as Bobby Clarke stretched the lead to 5-2, then Rick MacLeish would get the lead back up to four with a goal at 12:05 to make it 6-2.

While the Canadiens were down, they were not out of it just yet. 

Larry Robinson scored for Montreal just 39 seconds after MacLeish to make it 6-3 and winger Steve Shutt notched a power play goal at 17:22 to cut the lead to 6-4 as the game entered the third period.

The Canadiens would get a power play via a Bob Kelly slashing penalty midway through the third and they would capitalize on it. LaFleur scored his second of the game and cut the lead to 6-5 at 9:03.

Montreal’s defense would clamp down from there on the Flyers, allowing just two shots in the period. That defense would create offense and a chance to score the tying goal.

At 17:11, the Canadiens did just that, as right winger Rejean Houle beat Myre and tied the game at six. Each team earned a point with the game going to overtime, although the Flyers let the other point slip away as the game ended in a 6-6 tie.

At the time, this was simply a regular-season game between two very good teams. However, this game would also be catalogued as Game 4 of the Flyers 35-game unbeaten streak that season.

Ironically, the Orange and Black would go on to win their next nine games, until playing to a 3-3 tie at St. Louis on Nov. 17. Had the Flyers not squandered a two-goal lead late in this game versus Montreal, they could have entered St. Louis with a whopping 13-game winning streak.