In April 2010, the Flyers were finishing up a tumultuous season that featured a mid-season firing of their head coach and were clinging to the final playoff spot into the final week of the season.
On Friday night, April 9, a win over the Rangers would take care of everything and lock them into the playoffs, but the Rangers held off the Flyers in a 4-3 win to extend the season to the final day. The task was simple: the winner of the final game was going to the playoffs and the loser, no matter how it happened, was going into the offseason.
The scene shifted to Philadelphia for the final game on April 11 and it set up one of the best finishes and a memorable playoff run.
Here is a look back at the Shootout.
The Rangers took just 3:27 to get on the board, as Jody Shelley, who scored his first goal of the season two days earlier against the Flyers, scored on a deflection to put the Rangers in front.
For most of the game, it felt like Henrik Lundqvist was going to steal another game for the Rangers and carry them into the playoffs. Lundqvist was flawless until a Flyers power play in the third period gave them a chance.
At 6:54, Matt Carle scored on a rebound to tie the game at one.
When the dust settled on regulation and overtime, the Flyers had fired 47 shots to the 25 for the Rangers, as Lundqvist stood on his head in the closing moments to keep the game tied. It was no secret that the Flyers did not have a good track record in shootouts and the Rangers started to rely on Lundqvist to get them to one to try to complete the victory.
In the shootout, the Flyers opted to shoot first and put Danny Briere on the ice. Briere moved in, made a move that got Lundqvist down and lifted a shot to the top shelf to give the Flyers the lead in the shootout. Erik Christensen shot first for the Rangers and was stopped by the blocker of Brian Boucher.
Mike Richards was stopped by Lundqvist in the second round and P.A. Parenteau scored on his attempt to tie the shootout at one with a cutting move and a shot up and over Boucher.
It was on to the third and final round and Claude Giroux was up for the Flyers. Giroux skated right in, slowed down and fired a shot through the five-hole of Lundqvist to give the Flyers the lead again. That left it all up to Olli Jokinen for the Rangers. Jokinen started from nearly his own goal line, picking up a lot of speed as he took control of the puck. Jokinen went straight in on goal and cut to the backhand, looking to slip a shot through the five-hole of Boucher. Boucher stayed with it and closed off the five-hole, making the save and scrambling back to his feet to celebrate a 2-1 shootout win for the Flyers that propelled them to the playoffs.
Highlights from the game and the shootout in full can be seen below:
So what was the significance of this game? Well, it set up an entire run that lasted nearly another two months. The Flyers went on to face the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the playoffs and won the series in five games. They then faced the Boston Bruins, lost the first three games of the series and then pulled off a miracle comeback -- both in the series and Game 7 (10 years ago yesterday) -- to move to the Eastern Conference Final.
Riding the wave from the shootout win in the first round and now their improbable comeback, the Flyers took care of the Montreal Canadiens in five games to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Of course, everyone knows what happened from there. The Flyers were very much in the series, tied at two games apiece after four games, but lost Game 5 in Chicago before falling in overtime in Game 6 to come up just short of the ultimate prize.
But to think that those two months, the summer of excitement that made the Flyers must-watch, all started with the dreaded shootout, a shootout that was winner-take-all, fighting to make the playoffs. If it had gone as so many other shootouts had to that point, the Flyers would have missed the playoffs completely and there would be no run, no comeback, no shot at even coming close to a Stanley Cup, let alone two games away.
We will continue the Flyers Greatest Moments series next week on Monday with a look back at a great Flyers goalie that was gone too soon.