in collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
The Philadelphia Flyers win their second consecutive Stanley Cup, beating the Buffalo Sabres in six games in the first Stanley Cup Finals to feature to expansion teams. The Flyers win the clincher 2-0 at the Aud in Buffalo, as goalie Bernie Parent clinches the Conn Smythe win a shutout. The series is best remembered for foggy conditions at the Aud in Game 3.
Coached by Fred Shero, the Philadelphia Flyers were the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup, beating the Boston Bruins. The Flyers followed up their championship by posting the best record in the NHL at 51-18-11. After a first-round bye, the Flyers swept the Toronto Maple Leafs before facing the upstart New York Islanders in the semifinals. The Islanders in their first postseason had rallied to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games after trailing 3-0. The Flyers also built a 3-0 lead against the Islanders only to see New York rally again. The Flyers would avoid the same fate as Pittsburgh, winning Game 7 at the Spectrum 4-1 as Rick MacLeish had a hat trick.
The Buffalo Sabres were only in their fifth season but had the second-best record in the NHL at 49-16-15 for coach Floyd Smith. Buffalo was led by the French Connection line of Richard Martin, Rene Robert, and Gilbert Perrault, who all ranked among the NHL’s leading scorers. After a playoff bye, the Sabres made quick work of the Chicago Black Hawks, winning in five games. In the semifinals, the Sabres would upend the Montreal Canadiens in six games.
In the Stanley Cup Finals, the Flyers seeking a second straight Stanley Cup began the series at the Spectrum. In the opener, neither team was able to score in the first two periods as both Gerry Desjardins and Bernie Parent were at the top of their games. The Flyers finally broke the ice with a goal by Bill Barber in the third period. The Flyers would score four goals in the third period, with Barber lighting the lamp twice to win 4-1. Reggie Leach gave the Flyers a 1-0 in the second period of Game 2. Buffalo answered with a goal by Jerry Korab. However, Bobby Clarke netted a powerplay goal to win the game for the Flyers 2-1.
It was a hot spring day in Buffalo, as the Memorial Auditorium hosted its first Stanley Cup Finals Game. With no air conditioning, the ice began to create steam, which led to foggy conditions. Making things even more bizarre, a bat was flying over the playing surface until Jim Lorentz of the Sabres killed it. The Flyers would get off to a fast start in Game 3 as Gary Dornhoeffer scored 39 seconds into the game. Don Saleski later made it 2-0 in favor of Philadelphia. The Sabres would quickly rally to tie the game on goals by Danny Gare and Richard Martin. MacLeish scored to again give the Flyers a 3-2 lead. Early in the second period, Don Luce tied the 3-3, only to have the Flyers jump in front again with a goal by Reggie Leach. Bill Hajt tied the game in the third period as the game went into overtime tied 4-4. In overtime, it was the Sabres who would get the game-winner at 18:29 of sudden death.
Andre Dupont gave the Flyers an early lead in Game 4. After Jerry Korab tied the game, Philadelphia again took the lead with a goal by Ross Lonsberry. Midway through the second period Gilbert Perrault tied the game for Buffalo. Jim Lorentz would later give Buffalo a 3-2. The Sabres would win the game 4-2 as Danny Gare scored an empty netter with 32 seconds left. With series tied two games apiece, the Flyers went home to Kate Smith and God Bless America. With bruiser Dave Schultz scoring twice, the Broad Street Bullies dominated Game 5, winning 5-1.
The momentum was now clearly back with the Flyers as they returned to Buffalo for Game 6. Roger Crozier started in goal for the Sabres in Game 6 and blanked the Flyers in the first two periods. In the third period, Bob Kelly scored 11 seconds after the puck dropped. Bernie Parent meanwhile remained strong, turning aside 32 shots, as Bill Clement added an insurance goal to give the Sabres a 2-0 win to clinch the Stanley Cup Championship.