Throughout the season we will be taking an occasional look back at some significant moments in NHL history. This is the PHT Time Machine. Today we look back at a few wild moments in the history of the Pittsburgh Penguins-Philadelphia Flyers rivalry as they meet in the 2019 Stadium Series game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
1. The 42-game winless streak
There was an extended period of time — 15 years, to be exact — where the Pittsburgh Penguins probably would have preferred playing outside when they traveled to Philadelphia because they could not win a game in the old Spectrum. Literally, could not win a game. Between Feb. 7, 1974 and Feb. 2, 1989 the Penguins went 42 games without winning a game in the city of Philadelphia, posting an almost impossibly bad record of 0-39-3 in the Spectrum.
It was, uh, kind of a big deal in Pittsburgh when it finally ended with a 5-3 win.
2. Ron Hextall chases Rob Brown
While the Penguins finally snapped the Spectrum Jinx that season, it would not do them much luck in the playoffs. The 1988-89 season was the most productive season of Mario Lemieux’s career and resulted in his first ever playoff appearance. After easily dispatching the New York Rangers in the first round in a clean four-game sweep, the Penguins had to face their arch-nemesis in the second round and ultimately lost to them in seven games, blowing what had been a 3-2 series lead. They took that 3-2 lead with a wild 10-7 win in Game 5 that featured the highlight of the series and one of the signature moments of the Penguins-Flyers rivalry — Penguins forward Rob Brown scoring the team’s ninth goal mid-way through the second period, and then getting chased around the ice by an angry Ron Hextall.
3. The Five Overtime Game
The Penguins and Flyers played one of the NHL’s classic playoff games on May 5, 2000, when they needed five overtimes to settle Game 4 of their second-round Eastern Conference series. The Penguins had jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the series by taking the first two games in Philadelphia. But when the series shift back to Pittsburgh, the momentum swung back toward Philadelphia with a pair of overtime wins. In Game 3, Andy Delmore was the unlikely Flyers hero by scoring a pair of goals, including the game-winner. In Game 4, it was Keith Primeau that came up big with this absolutely perfect shot to win the game at some ungodly hour in the morning.
Penguins goalie Ron Tugnutt stopped 70 shots that night, and it still was not enough.
The Flyers would go on to win the next two games by a combined score of 8-4 to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals.
4. Jagr Watch and the 2011-12 season
Prior to the 2011-12 season it was made known that Jaromir Jagr was going to be returning to the NHL after spending a few years playing in the KHL and the Pittsburgh Penguins were interested in a reunion with one of their greatest all-time players. The free agency saga involving Jagr was long, drawn out, chaotic, and ultimately ended with him not signing with the Penguins, but their fiercest long-time rival … the Flyers.
This came in the same year that then-Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren was overhauling his roster by signing players to long-term contracts and then trading them, so the addition of Jagr was just another blockbuster on top of many other blockbusters.
Naturally, the two teams ended up meeting in the first-round of the playoffs and it was absolute mayhem. This was the series that seemed to officially break Ilya Bryzgalov as a legitimate NHL starting goalie, and for as bad as he was he was still the better of the two goalies and on the winning side. The series featured no defense, no goaltending, a missed offside call in Game 1 to spark a Flyers rally from a 3-0 deficit, on-ice violence and chaos, and a handful of suspensions.
Honestly, we should have seen all of that coming based on what happened in the final regular season meeting between the two teams when all hell broke loose on the ice and between the benches.
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