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On This Date in Sports May 10, 1970: The Flight

in collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

 It is one of the most iconic moments in sports frozen in time by one iconic image. Leading 3-0 and looking for a sweep at the Boston Garden, the Boston Bruins found themselves in overtime in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the St. Louis Blues as they sought their first Stanley Cup since 1941. Just 40 seconds into sudden death, Bobby Orr scores, and leaps in the air, as the Bruins are victorious. 

The flight or Bobby Orr’s flying goal has become perhaps the most common picture whenever the legend of Orr or the Boston Bruins is discussed. The moment has been immortalized in by photographs, paintings, and even a statue outside of TD Garden in Boston.  

The rise of the Boston Bruins coincided with the growth of Bobby Orr into the best player in the NHL. Bobby Orr became the first defenseman in 26 years to with the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in 1970, also winning the Norris Trophy with 120 points and 87 assists, both setting records by a defenseman. Led by coach Harry Sinden, the Bruins finished second in the Eastern Division among the Original Six teams with a record of 40-17-19. In the playoffs, the Bruins upended the New York Rangers in six games and swept the Chicago Black Hawks on the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Black Hawks had beaten out the Bruins for the best team in the regular season by having more wins, as each finished with 99 points. 

In the all-expansion Western Division, the St. Louis Blues coached by Scotty Bowman proved to be the best again. The division made up of the six teams that joined the league in 1967 had the Blues reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the third consecutive season. The Blues posted a record of 37-27-12 in the regular season, finishing in first place.   On the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Blues beat the Minnesota North Stars in six games and beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. 

The Stanley Cup Finals began in St. Louis, with the Bruins delivering a dominant 6-1 win in Game 1, as Johnny Bucyk netted a hat trick. Boston was nearly as dominant in Game 2, winning 6-2 as Ed Westfall and Derek Sanderson each scored two goals. As the series shifted to the Boston Garden, the Bruins remained the beasts of the NHL, winning 4-1 as Wayne Cashman scored twice. 

Throughout the 1970 Playoffs, the Bruins had no trouble lighting the lamp, as Tony Esposito led the way with 13 goals and 14 assists. In fact, that top three goal scorers for the postseason all played for the Bruins, with Johnny Bucyk posting 11 goals and Bobby Orr scoring nine. The Bruins had the top five scorers, John McKenzie and Fred Stanfield, joining Esposito, Bucyk, and Orr. All the scoring made the job easy for goalie Gerry Cheevers. 

In Game 4, the Bruins expected a coronation for their first Stanley Cup since 1941. Instead, the Blues had their best game of the series, as they held a 3-2 lead in the third period, with a goal by Larry Keenan. However, Johnny Bucyk got the equalizer as the game went to overtime. Overtime would not last long as Bobby Orr scored the game-winner just 40 seconds into sudden death, making his famous leap in the air, as the puck went past Blues goalie Glenn Hall.