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On This Date in Sports January 7, 1980: Streaking on Ice

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Philadelphia Flyers suffer their first loss since October 13th, as they are slammed by the Minnesota North Stars 7-1 at the Met Center. The Flyers came into the game with a 35-game unbeaten streak, winning 25 games with ten ties over that period. Philadelphia scored first as Bill Barber netted a goal at 3:49 of the first period. The North Stars finished the game with seven unanswered goals to hand the Flyers their second loss. The 35-game unbeaten streak remains an NHL record unlikely to be broken. 

The Philadelphia Flyers had their struggles in the 1978/79 season as they replaced Fred Shero, who had left to coach the New York Rangers. Bob McCammon had replaced Shero but was fired in January after an eight-game winless streak. Pat Quinn replaced McCammon, and the Flyers finished strong at 40-25-15. In the playoffs, the Flyers' season ended with a loss to Shero's Rangers in the second round.

The Flyers began their first full season with Pat Quinn behind the bench with a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders at the Spectrum on October 11th. The Flyers stumbled in their first road game two days later, as they were roasted by the Atlanta Flames 9-2. The Flyers rebounded with a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs the following night. The Flyers would win six of their last seven games in October as the lone blemish was a 6-6 tie against the four-time reigning champion Montreal Canadiens. 

The Flyers soared in November, winning 11 of 13 games, with ties against the St. Louis Blues and the Edmonton Oilers, who were in their first NHL season with Wayne Gretzky. The Flyers continued to avoid losses in December, but ties began to become a habit. This included three consecutive ties to start the month against the Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, and Boston Bruins. The Flyers would win seven and have ties in December. It was during this stretch that they topped the Montreal Canadiens record 28-game unbeaten streak set just two seasons earlier. The record-breaker was a 5-2 road win over the Bruins on December 22nd.

The streak continued into the New Year, as the Flyers stretched the streak to 35 games, with wins over the Rangers and Buffalo Sabres. The 35-game unbeaten streak topped the 1971/72 Los Angeles Lakers for most games in North American Professional sports without a loss. The Lakers had a 33-game winning streak. The Flyers record was 25-0-10. 

Looking to extend the streak, the Flyers got the early lead on Bill Barber's goal at 3:49. Minnesota evened the score ten minutes later when Mike Eaves scored on a power play. Greg Smith gave the North Stars the lead at 14:15, while Steve Payne made it 3-1 with a goal with 1:06 left in the first period. The North Stars put the game on ice with two goals in 21 seconds in the second period as Craig Hartsburg scored on the power play at 15:33, while Mike Polich made it 5-1 at 15:54. While Giles Meloche made 30 saves on 31 shots for Minnesota, Phil Myre allowed seven goals on 40 shots for Philadelphia. The North Stars added goals from Ron Zanussi and Bobby Smith in the third period to make the final 7-1. 

The loss dropped the Flyers to 26-2-10, while the North Stars coached by Glenn Sonnar improved to 20-9-8. The Flyers would finish the season as the top team in the NHL at 48-12-20. They would reach the Stanley Cup Finals but were upset by the division rival New York Islanders in six games. At the time, all 16 teams were seeded 1-16 in the NHL playoffs. Along the way, the Flyers got revenge, beating the North Stars in the semifinals in five games.