As a continuation of PSN’s playoff series, we now move onto some notable game sixes in playoff history. This time, we’re going to take you back to an often forgotten about season. Game six of Stanley Cup Finals against the Oilers in 1987 was a huge bounce-back game for Philly, as they took down the Oilers 3-2. The Oilers took were up 3-2 in the series, so this game forced a crazy game seven. Game six is arguably one of the best games in Flyers’ history. In fact, Bleacher Report suggested it may be the greatest playoff series of all time.
Heading into the season, the Oilers were heavy Stanley Cup favorites. I mean, they had the Great One after all, along with six other future Hall of Famers. On the flip side, the Flyers sat at +400 preseason odds. It wasn’t a total David vs. Goliath matchup since the Flyers won the Patrick Division with 100 points, but not many people believed in Philly to not get swept. So, let’s see how it all panned out.
The first period of this game was ugly. In a period of 13 penalties accumulating 28 total penalty minutes, this game was some classic hockey from the get-go.
The Flyers were up against the ropes early. The almighty Oilers seemed to finally have gotten the best of the Flyers, scoring two first period goals. While down a man, the Oilers took advantage of their first opportunity of many in the game. Gretzky danced into the Flyers’ zone, and tried a wrap-around attempt. This was kicked in by Kevin Lowe, except, it counted due to the lack of replay technology in 1987. Fast forward ten minutes of game time, three Oilers were digging in front of the net. Kevin McClelland was credited with giving it the last poke before it crossed the goal line.
The 2-0 Edmonton lead did not define how Hextall played in the period, however. Continuing the common trend in this series, Ron Hextall was an absolute brick wall for Philly. The Oilers peppered him with 18 first period shots to the Flyers five.
Down two at the break, the Flyers were not looking too hot heading into the middle frame.
Up until this point, the Oilers outscored the Flyers 9-1 in the first period in the series. Along with this, the Flyers found themselves down 2-0 in their fourth straight game. The good news is, coach Mike Keenan knew how to rally his troops.
Philly nearly went 12 minutes without a shot, as they finally registered their first shot on goal about six minutes into the second period. Luckily, that gave them just enough momentum. Lindsay Carson would tuck one home soon after, cutting the Oilers’ lead in half. The Spectrum erupted, and the Flyers wouldn’t look back.
Ron Hextall kept the Flyers in this game, and the entire series, pretty much on his own. Save after save, he sparked energy.
Philly followed up a dismal first period with a much better second period, but would it be enough to come back against the immortal Oilers’ squad?
Yes, it would be.
In a sold-out Spectrum crowd of 17,222, the Flyers did not disappoint. Philly started to take this game over.
The orange and black began to fire shots from everywhere on Grant Fuhr. Even though the shots in the game finished at 43-20 in favor of the Oilers, Philly made quality count over quantity as Hextall and the Flyers did not allow a goal for the remainder of the game.
Up until this point, the Flyers were 0-4 when they were up a man. Most of the penalties up until this point came as coincidental, but the Oilers fell apart in the third. Despite whacking Kjell Samuelsson in the face numerous times. It took until there were eight minutes left in the third period for Glenn Anderson to go to the box for high sticking.
Nonetheless, the game was now tied at two. And in fact, it only took a minute longer for the Flyers to take their first lead of the game. J.J. Daigneault would pick up his first goal of the playoffs to send the teams to a game seven.
For the first time since 1971, there would be a Game Seven in the Finals. Unreal.
What Happened Next:
As I mentioned in my game three article, Ron Hextall took home the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoffs MVP. This made him the third player in NHL history at the time, and third of five total, and the second Flyer (Reggie Leach, 1976) to do so as the MVP of the losing team. Hextall made 25 saves in this one, and 698 total playoff saves in 1987, more than 200 higher than the next goaltender on the list.
Despite taking an early lead in game seven, the Oilers high powered offense was too much in the end, and they took the Stanley Cup Finals in seven games. As in Flyers’ fashion, they ran into another dynasty, preventing their hopes of hoisting the cup.
Mandatory Credit – ca.sports.yahoo.com