With two minutes left in the second period tonight, the Spectrum message board noted that "Gene Hart, the Voice of the Flyers, is broadcasting his 1,000th game tonight."
It was a wise move by some Flyer employe, because it gave the 17,077 faithful a chance to stand and cheer. There were few other opportunities, since the New York Rangers, ahead by 5-1 at that point, went on to deal the Flyers the worst playoff defeat in their 12-year history, 7-1.
The massacre evened the best-of-seven Stanley Cup quarterfinal at a game apiece, with the third meeting scheduled Friday in New York. But the Rangers, while celebrating in modest fashion, were quick to point out that the size of the score was not worth extra credit.
"It's only one game, not four," said Ron Greschner, the night's only two-goal scorer. "It's like that loss in overtime Monday. You have to forget it and look to the next game."
"I'll always be happy to have a split on the road," said Coach Fred Shero, "but if we'd played a little smarter we'd have two games."
Monday, the Rangers tried to sit on a 2-0 lead and wound up 3-2 losers. Tonight, they just sat on the Flyers and Shero was not exaggerating when he said, "We got so many breaks, we should have had more goals. We weren't doing anything special. I don't understand how we got so many good chances."
Precision passing was part of it, and Anders Hedberg's perfect setup to Steve Vickers made it 1-0 after only 2:21. Frank Bath's slap shot tied it, then Greschner made the big play of the game.
With Philadelphia enjoying one of only two power-play opportunities, Bobby Clarke cut across the blue line. Greschner knocked the puck away, gained possession and skated in on a breakaway. He put a deke on Robbie Moore and slipped the puck behind the 5-foot-5 goalie.
It was a rare slip by the Flyers, who led the NHL in shorthanded goals scored (16) and permitted the fewest (2).
"Eddie Johnstone yelled that he had (Reg) Leach, so i stood up to Clarke," Greschner said. "I was lucky to sweep it off his stick. I wasn't sure I had a breakaway and my first thought was to shoot it down the ice. But I sort of looked and there was nobody there, so I didn't. Yeah, I'm glad."
Greschner has been back only a short time, a broken ankle having benched him for six weeks, and his solo effort produced both jokes about his slow skating and a good feeling among his teammates.
"We had a feeling in the room after the first period, something that wasn't there before," said goalie John Davidson, whose 32 saves were an important though largely overlooked factor in the victory.
"We went out in the second period with a lot of confidence. Greschner scoring like that helped him, because he's had a tough time coming back, and the rest of us."
In the second period, New York fired 21 shots on goal and scored three times to brak the game open. Rookie Don Maloney netted one, after stealing the puck from veteran defenseman Jim Watson, and set up Greschner for another.
Moore departed with a twisted right knee after Greschner's second goal, which was scored after Ranger Phil Esposito wrestled the Flyers' 6-5 Bob Darley down on top of the little goalie.
Wayne Stephenson finished up and turned back four breakaways, as the Flyers' defense broke down, but he did not stop shots by Johnstone, Don Murdoch and Mike McEwen.
Davidson was bumped hard by Flyers Bill Barber, Ken Linseman (twice) and Paul Holmgren as the game slipped out of hand. He wasn't concerned.
"A physical game gets you involved, into the game," Davidson said. "The adrenaline gets flowing a lot freer. Besides, it's a sign of frustration."