Tenth in a series counting down the 10 most memorable playoff wins in the Flyers’ history. Today: No. 1.

Forty-six years later, Bob Clarke has an indelible imprint of Rick MacLeish’s first-period goal – arguably the most famous in Flyers history – and Bernie Parent’s late save on Ken Hodge in a 1-0 Game 6 win over Bobby Orr and the favored Boston Bruins on May 19, 1974.

The Spectrum’s roof, which literally had sections blown off twice in a two-week span in 1968, was severely tested again as the final seconds of that epic ticked away and Gene Hart made what would become a legendary call from the broadcast booth.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Flyers are going to win the Stanley Cup! The Flyers win the Stanley Cup! The Flyers win the Stanley Cup! The Flyers have won the Stanley Cup!”

“The one thing that remains really clear for me was MacLeish’s goal,” Clarke, now a Flyers senior adviser, then the captain and leader of a team whose franchise started just seven years earlier, said in a recent phone interview. “[Andre] Dupont shot the puck, and both Orr and I were in the penalty box, so I had a clear view – right from the shot to the deflection to the goal.”

In Flyers Decades, an online show that had several of the ’74 champs on a Zoom call last month, Clarke recalled an impromptu talk he had with MacLeish before the Cup-clincher.

“I got Ricky MacLeish in the bathroom before Game 6,” he said. “I said, ‘If you don’t play the game of your life, Rick, we won’t win the Cup.’ He said, ‘I will.’ I wasn’t responsible for his play, but part of leadership is to remind guys you need them to play good, to ask for help.”

Rick MacLeish was the NHL's leading playoff scorer in the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons. The Flyers won the Stanley Cup both years.
AP File Photo
Rick MacLeish was the NHL's leading playoff scorer in the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons. The Flyers won the Stanley Cup both years.

In addition to MacLeish’s deflected power-play goal, Clarke said, his most vivid memory of the 1-0 clincher was how Parent coolly preserved the victory.

“I remember late in the game, Ken Hodge coming down – and again I’m sitting on the bench with a clear view of it – and Parent made a skate save on him,” Clarke said.

It turned out to be the biggest save in what still remains the most memorable win in franchise history.

“From the bench, I thought it was going in,” Clarke said. “Parent just stuck his leg out there. He made so many of those types of saves, that you start taking them for granted after a while, but that’s one I remember.”

Tension mounts

As the final minutes ticked down, the thick tension at the Spectrum tried turning to excitement, but the score was too close for the 17,007 fans to relax, too close to start celebrating, too close to almost catch your breath.

Bobby Clarke (left) and owner Ed Snider were driving forces behind the Flyers' first Stanley Cup title in 1974.
File Photograph
Bobby Clarke (left) and owner Ed Snider were driving forces behind the Flyers' first Stanley Cup title in 1974.

The fans could exhale, however, after Parent stopped Hodge’s ticketed, vicious slap shot with under three minutes remaining.

“That wasn’t me that made that save,” Parent said the other day. “That was my mom.”

It was fitting, Parent said, that the Flyers won the Cup on May 19. His mother, Emilie, 64, had died a year earlier on May 19. She was also born on May 19.

“Imagine that,” Parent said.

The Bruins had the league’s top four point producers in the 1973-74 regular season and had the home ice advantage in the Finals. They were full of veterans who had won Cups in 1970 and 1972, and, entering the 1974 playoffs, had not lost at Boston Garden to the Flyers in the last 18 games (16-0-2). It’s no wonder the Bruins were the favorites before the series started.

Clarke’s view

Clarke didn’t see it that way, however.

“We were a better coached team and we had better goaltending,” he said. “Defensively, as a team, we were better.”

The Flyers would also win the Cup in 1975 by beating Buffalo in six games. Joe Watson said the first Cup was sweeter.

Page one of the May 20, 1974 Daily News after the Flyers' Stanley Cup win.
Daily News archives
Page one of the May 20, 1974 Daily News after the Flyers' Stanley Cup win.

“We weren’t even given a chance against the Bruins,” said Watson, a key defenseman on those championship teams who has been selling advertising for the Flyers’ arenas for the last 35 years, "and beating them meant so much more. Plus we beat the team I used to play for. So for me, the first one definitely meant so much more. I think in the second one, we were cocky enough and good enough that we knew we were going to win again.”

The Flyers lost in four straight to Montreal in the 1976 Final, but every game was close. The Flyers were without two key injured players: Parent and MacLeish.

“If we have them, who knows what happens,” Watson said.

After MacLeish’s four-on-three goal in the 1974 clincher, “we had no intention of sitting on a one-goal lead,” said Clarke, whose Flyers became the first team from the 1967 expansion to win the Cup. “We had lots of scoring chances and so did they over the course of the game. And the longer the game went, the tighter we played [defensively].”

Unusual strategy

The Flyers had an unusual strategy in that series – let Orr, who was 26 years old and establishing himself as the most dynamic defenseman in NHL history, carry the puck a lot. Oh, and hit him at every opportunity.

Shades of the 1974 Stanley Cup Final: Former Flyers great Bobby Clarke and ex-Bruins superstar Bobby Orr meet before an alumni game.
File Photograph
Shades of the 1974 Stanley Cup Final: Former Flyers great Bobby Clarke and ex-Bruins superstar Bobby Orr meet before an alumni game.

In other words, Flyers coach Fred Shero wanted to wear down the Bruins’ superstar.

“Before the series started, Shero said so much of their offense revolved around Orr. He was that good of a player,” Clarke said. “He told us repeatedly, ‘Shoot the puck in his corner and, even if you’re tired, go as hard as you can and chase him down and make him go back fast for every puck. If you can get there in time, run into him.’ He wanted us to make him skate back fast and eventually over the course of the series it would take its toll.”

The strategy worked. Orr was not a factor in Game 6.

“I think that was probably the first series where Orr saw a team throwing the puck at him,” Clarke said. “Normally, teams were throwing it away from him.”

At that time, Clarke said, “the Bruins were still playing two-minute shifts. We were the first team that went down to one-minute shifts, and now they’re down to about 35 seconds. So we constantly had fresh legs on the ice to chase him down a lot.”

In the closing seconds of the game, Orr shot the puck deep into the Flyers’ end. Behind the net, Watson waited before touching it, hoping the final seconds would tick away.

The Flyers win their first Stanley Cup on May 19, 1974.
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The Flyers win their first Stanley Cup on May 19, 1974.

“I didn’t touch it until [Boston’s] Wayne Cashman was near me,” said Watson, who had Orr as his best man when he got married.

Four seconds remained. But instead of having a faceoff down at the Bruins’ end following the icing, fans started climbing onto the ice. The celebration began.

“Terry Crisp, the little bugger, he jumped right off the bench and he comes running over and grabs the puck right off my stick,” Watson said. “I said, ‘What the hell you doing?’ He said, ‘It’s over!’ I said it can’t be over. There’s still four seconds left.’ ”

Watson let out a hearty laugh, mindful the officials waved off the last four seconds. {Watson misremembered the ending. The linesman actually took the puck from him and Crisp quickly asked for it -- “It means more to me than you,” he told him -- and was handed the precious keepsake.)

“I’m pretty sure he still has the puck today, the rascal,” Watson said.

He does. Crisp held it up at the end of a recent Flyers Decades show.

“It’s worth a hell of a lot of money,” Watson said. “I think what he should do is sell that puck and take us out for some beers.”

Then again, none of that team’s champs probably have had to pay for a beer since their dramatic win on May 19, 1974, the day, their star goalie insists, his late mother helped her son make perhaps the most important save in franchise history.

Cheers, Emilie Parent.

Flyers coach Fred Shero and defenseman Joe Watson sharing a bottle of champagne in the winners' locker room after the team won the Stanley Cup over the Boston Bruins in 1974.
AP File Photo
Flyers coach Fred Shero and defenseman Joe Watson sharing a bottle of champagne in the winners' locker room after the team won the Stanley Cup over the Boston Bruins in 1974.