The series between the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals was historic not just for its result. It helped propel one team to the Stanley Cup Final and, one season later, the other to a championship.

The series between the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals was historic not just for its result. It helped propel one team to the Stanley Cup Final and, one season later, the other to a championship.The Flyers not only won the best-of-7 series after losing the first three games, but they went from qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the final day of the season to reaching the Final, where they lost the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. 
The Bruins, who became the third team in NHL history to lose a best-of-7 series after winning the first three games, used the disappointment from their epic collapse as fuel to win the Stanley Cup in 2011, their first championship in nearly 40 years. 
But when the series began in Boston on May 1, 2010, no one had an idea of what impact the matchup between the sixth (Bruins) and seventh (Flyers) seeds would make.  
On its 10th anniversary, here’s an oral history of the series as told by those who played and coached in it.
Marc Savard returned to the Bruins lineup for Game 1. He had been out with a concussion since March 7, missing their first-round series against the Buffalo Sabres.
Marc Savard, Bruins center: I was doing as good as I could at that point. I went through all kinds of tests, which made me feel positive that I can play without any risk of injury. It was frustrating not being able to play in the Buffalo series, but it was the right thing to do at the time. I was excited to get back when I did against Philly.
Daniel Briere, Flyers forward: We prepared as if he was going to play. … A player of that stature, even though he hadn’t played in a long time, he’s still a high-end player that can break through at any moment and take control of a game at any moment. 
Shawn Thornton, Bruins forward: His playmaking ability was at another level. He took the power play from maybe a little above average to great.
Milan Lucic, Bruins forward: It was a huge lift because I think one of the things that was a part of our strengths back in those days was we were three centermen deep with him, [Patrice] Bergeron and [David] Krejci. To get him back, we can have a serious run at this thing.
The Bruins took a 4-2 lead midway through the third period of Game 1, but Briere tied it 4-4 with 3:22 left to send it to overtime.
Briere: The way we came back in that game, it was pretty amazing, two late goals in the third period. We were definitely feeling it, we were in control of that game at that point, taking it to overtime.
The Bruins dominated overtime, outshooting the Flyers 15-4. Savard, who played 15:16 and said he was playing on adrenaline, won it with a slap shot past goalie Brian Boucher at 13:52. Savard’s emotional celebration included him tossing his stick into the stands.
Savard: [The puck] kicked out to the corner and I just remember (Boston defenseman Dennis) Wideman coming down the boards, and I turned around and fired it hard as I could at the net. It had eyes and it went in. I was obviously ecstatic because of what I had been through; it’s a playoff game, so it was a lot of emotion. I battled some pretty deep, dark times throughout that concussion, wondering if I was going to play again. It was huge for me confidence-wise, just thinking I was OK, and I’d be able to play. It was a really emotional evening for me, took a lot of out of me. I was excited to be back and enjoying the things that I’d do on a normal game-day basis.
Lucic: I think what was so thrilling for all of us, it gave us a sense of confidence. To be able to come back and score a goal like that, that gave him a sense of confidence. We were thrilled to see that smile on his face we hadn’t seen in two months. You couldn’t have written a better comeback from what he was dealing with for two months than what happened there in Game 1.
Lucic broke a tie with 2:57 remaining in the third period of Game 2, and the Bruins won 3-2.
Brian Boucher, Flyers goalie: I think we felt like we’re right there, we could be tied if not better in this series. But you’re not. So I think at that point coming home, we knew Game 3 was a big game for us. It was a must-win.
Peter Laviolette, Flyers coach: I would have rather played lousy and won the two games. That’s not the way it played out. I think our guys know what happened the first two games, the result didn’t go our way, so you just try to find the positive at that point.
In the first period of Game 3, Philadelphia forward Mike Richards delivered an open-ice hit on Krejci. Though Miroslav Satan scored on the play to give Boston a 2-1 lead in a 4-1 victory, the series started to change with the hit on Krejci, who dislocated his right wrist and was ruled out for the remainder of the playoffs.
Thornton: He was a huge loss. He was our second- or third-line center at the time. … Probably not on everyone’s radar at the time, but we knew internally that he was a huge loss. 
Boucher: He’s a big player for them, so this is huge. I think we knew he was a big player, but we didn’t realize how important a player he was until the series started to unfold. That’s where it started to show.
Lucic: When we lost Krejci, we had a lot of guys playing in situations that they weren’t accustomed to. We lost Marco Sturm early in Game 1 of that series with an ACL injury. So we lose Marco Sturm, who was Bergeron’s left winger. We lose Krejci in the beginning of Game 3, he was probably our top player at that time. Guys are just playing everywhere and anywhere after the Krejci and Sturm injuries.
The Bruins were in control of the series and assumed they would have time to figure how to move forward without Krejci. They needed one win out of the next four games, and only two teams in NHL history had come back from trailing 3-0 to win a playoff series: the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Detroit Red Wings in the 1942 Stanley Cup Final, and the New York Islanders against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1975 NHL Quarterfinals.
Lucic: Our mindset was, let’s finish this [in Game 4]. Let’s go home, get rest and prepare for the conference final and let [the] Pittsburgh [Penguins] and Montreal [Canadiens] beat the [stuff] out of each other, and we’ll rest up and get ready. That was what was our mindset.
Video: Memories: Flyers erase 3-0 series deficit vs. Bruins
Briere: I remember after [Game 3] there must have been 12 or 13 of us sitting in the (dressing room) lounge. We were just looking at each other. And I’ve been in other dressing rooms where when you’re down 3-0 everybody disappears, there’s no talking, you’re trying to win the next one to save face and not get swept, but in the back of your mind you know it’s pretty much over. I did not feel that way. It’s the only time in my career, and I’ve been down a few times 3-0, it was the only time where I really believed that it was possible to come back. We’re sitting there thinking, “This is so weird we should be up 2-1 in this series, at worst we’re down 2-1. But there’s no way we should be down 3-0. Just doesn’t make sense.” 
The Flyers got some help in Game 4 with the return of forward Simon Gagne, 17 days after he broke his toe in the first round against the New Jersey Devils. Forward Jeff Carter broke his foot in that series and did not play in the conference semifinals.
Boucher: We needed something to give us some hope. With Gagne, that was a little bit of hope. We’re down 3-0, we need to win one game, they don’t have Krejci, we’re getting Gagne back. Add those up, and before the game even starts you’ve got yourself a little momentum and a minor victory.
After Boston tied the game with 32 seconds remaining in the third period, Gagne scored with 5:20 left in overtime, and the Flyers stayed alive with a 5-4 victory. It was Gagne’s only shift of overtime.
Laviolette: His foot was bugging him so much he wasn’t taking a regular shift toward the end of the third period. It got to be overtime, and him and (trainer) Jimmy McCrossin were communicating all the time. … He said he was good to go, and he played a shift and he scored a really huge goal. 
Boucher: We needed a little jolt of energy. He gave it to us and he obviously gave us a huge jolt contributing the way he did. And now you got that one game. You set out to accomplish one thing, and you did it. You got one win.
Lucic: We weren’t overly upset because we knew we had the 3-0 series lead and we had all the momentum and everything. We’re like, “It’s all right, they got one, it’s just one game. No team’s ever come back from down 3-0, we’ll just beat them at home in Game 5.”
Three days later, Philadelphia was leading 1-0 at 4:25 of the second period in Game 5 in Boston when Boucher stopped a Savard shot. Flyers defenseman Ryan Parent and Satan fell on top of Boucher, who had his legs pinned under him. 
Boucher: The puck squirted behind me, and I was in a butterfly and I was reaching back with the paddle of my stick to go get it. As I was going back, Ryan Parent pushed one of the Bruins players onto me. And I could feel him [landing] on my chest, and as I was falling back, I couldn’t get my legs out from underneath me. My legs got stuck and I ended up spraining both my MCLs; had a Grade 2 (sprain) in one of my knees and a Grade 1 in the other. It was excruciating pain. I thought I blew my knees out, thought it was the ACL in both knees.
Michael Leighton, the Flyers’ backup goalie, was in uniform for the first time since March 16, when he sprained his ankle during a game against the Nashville Predators.
Briere: I think because it happened during the game, as players you don’t have time to think about it. If it happens in between games the hamster gets going, you start thinking about all kinds of things and it’s easy to get off your game. When it happens in the course of a game, you don’t have time to think, “OK, how is this guy going to react? He hasn’t been playing, it’s his first time on the bench.” You just go with it.
Thornton: I played with [Leighton] in the minors (Norfolk of the American Hockey League) for three years. I knew him really well. He’s a good goalie, but … he’s very beatable, we just have to take advantage now.
Laviolette: We picked up Leighton (off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 15). Michael Leighton came in and he shut the door for the rest of the year. For him to go back in the net, it wasn’t like we were taking Michael Leighton off the waiver wire and let’s see what he can do.
Leighton made 14 saves, and Philadelphia won 4-0. Leighton and Boucher were credited with the second combined shutout in postseason history; the only other time it had been done was by Jacques Plante and Charlie Hodge of the Montreal Canadiens, against the Bruins on March 22, 1955. Leighton started the remaining 13 games for Philadelphia, with Boucher coming on in relief twice.
Boucher: That is very hard; he steps into that game and we’re down 3-0 or 4-0 and it’s mop-up duty and the series closes out and we lose in five and shake hands, it’s not the biggest story ever. But the fact that he has to come in and preserve a 1-0 lead in a must-win situation, you don’t have another game to screw around with. Very hard.
Savard: There wasn’t a lot of panic in our dressing room. We had the lead and we kept talking about that. We were very confident about that. I know their goalie got hurt and the other guy came in and he played well. But it never really got to us.
Briere: The way we won Game 5, handily gave it to them … that’s when I’m sure in their minds it started going sideways, and in our minds everything is getting back on track. Now we’re getting the bounces, things are falling into place the way it should be. Everyone’s feeling more and more confident at that point.
Leighton made 30 saves in Game 6 and did not allow a goal until Lucic scored with one minute left. The Flyers won 2-1 to force Game 7. 
Lucic: They went up quick 1-0 in Game 6, and that was one of the loudest crowds that I’ve ever heard. We got down 2-0 and then, all of a sudden, the Philly hometown crowd became an issue for us to get back in the game.
James van Riemsdyk, Flyers rookie forward: I think being in that situation now of having played a few years and being in different situations where that might happen, I can now think back and think that’s tough when you’re up 3-0 and you lose the next couple. There has to be a little seed of doubt starting to creep back in there.
In Game 7 in Boston, the Bruins scored three times in the first 14:10 of the game, including two goals by Lucic.
Lucic: The way Game 7 started was the way you would have wrote it up.
Video: 2010 Round 2, Gm7: Down 0-3 in series, Flyers rally
Briere: We got off to such a bad start, and I remember just seeing red. I was livid; I honestly lost control. We were all furious. We had worked so hard to get back to this point and to start this way, I was seeing red. I was so mad that it was happening after putting in all the work to get back in this series. That’s what I was thinking in the moment; we’re not even going to give ourselves a chance by playing this way.
Thornton: I remember we scored the third goal, the bench [was] erupting, jumping up and down. After that third goal, I think we might have gotten a little complacent. 
Laviolette: I’m from Massachusetts. Boston’s got a lot of history, it’s a big sports town, they have some passionate fans. That building was absolutely crazy because of the 14 minutes and the way they played them. People say ‘blow the roof off the building’; I thought it was going to happen. Lucic was unbelievable with the way he was playing with his physicality, the way he powered to the net on a couple goals.
Laviolette called a timeout after the third goal.
Laviolette: I never really liked to call [a timeout] after a goal’s been scored on the road because it’s almost ridiculous, you’re trying to talk over 18,000 fans, and how loud it was in that building, they were about to blow [the roof] off. … The purpose of the timeout was to stop the game and see if we could break [the momentum] and move it in a different direction. The message was pretty simple, it was the only thing I could think of at the time, probably what everyone was thinking: There’s five minutes left on the clock, if you could just get one goal and make it 3-1, send it in to the intermission with that goal and only having to score two to tie it up over the course of 40 minutes, that’s not unrealistic. So that was the message on the bench: Just get one goal, score one goal.
Briere: To me it did not make sense. I look back now and it’s clear as day that that’s what was needed. I remember Peter just saying all we need is one goal, and he kept repeating that. And if you look at the video, he’s holding his one finger up. He’s saying guys, just one goal, we just need one goal before the end of the period and it’s going to change everything. I remember being so mad I couldn’t even really process what he was saying and what was going on.
Van Riemsdyk got the Flyers that one goal with 2:48 remaining in the period.
Van Riemsdyk: I remember throwing one on net, hit a stick, hit someone’s foot and then it went through the five-hole of (Tuukka) Rask. Just one like that. Seemed like the game’s much more manageable at that point.
Lucic: I think that’s the turning point of Game 7, the goal that they got from van Riemsdyk right before the end of the first period. Because we went from thinking we’re just going to cruise into the Eastern Conference Final to they planted the seed of doubt by getting that goal. The way that goal went in kind of writes the script of how that game and how that series went in the sense of they get a bounce and now they got all the momentum and hope and can get themselves in the back in the game because they know they have 40 minutes. Their mindset was more positive, and our mindset was that seed of doubt that was planted.
Briere: I remember the intermission. It wasn’t about winning the hockey game, it’s can you win the second period? That might have just been 1-0 and we still would have been one goal behind but that would have been OK.
The Flyers scored twice in the second period, and the game was tied 3-3 going into the third.
Lucic: I don’t know if I would say we got complacent throughout the series. I think our depth fizzled away due to injuries. Even Marc Savard coming back, yeah he scored a big goal in Game 1, but he wasn’t the same guy. … I think our depth fizzled away and we lost a little of that killer instinct. And in Games 6 and 7 we almost played not to lose instead of playing to win. We lost that killer instinct, and we weren’t able to finish them and put them away.
Boucher: The [Bruins] just seemed to have that fire that you need, but it was almost like they couldn’t sustain it. For whatever reason, they started to go into a shell and wanted to protect this lead. I felt at the intermission there’s a lot of time in this game and I feel like time is on our side. It turned out to be that way. We just kept coming and coming and coming. It felt like the Bruins were just trying to hang on for dear life, which was a mistake on their end.
Briere: In our mind, we have control of this game. We know they’re frozen because now the pressure is on even more for them. We’re going to find a way like we always do. … There’s no doubt at that point the game is won, it’s just wondering who’s going to make the big play.
Gagne made the biggest play of the series, scoring a power-play goal to give the Flyers a 4-3 lead with 7:08 remaining in the third.
Briere: It’s pretty cool that Simon comes in because he wasn’t even sure he was going to be able to play that game. For him to come in and score that big goal was pretty cool to see.
The Flyers held on for a 4-3 a victory.
Thornton: Being up 3-0 in the series and 3-0 in that game, it was one of the most epic collapses in the history of hockey.
Briere: It’s a little surreal. We’re exhausted because physically it took a toll. Mentally, going through the ups and downs of that series, being in the dumps to coming back up, to being in the dumps again in Game 7 to coming back up, I just remember mentally being completely drained, but ecstatic about moving forward once again.
The Flyers defeated the Montreal Canadiens in five games in the conference final and reached the Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins were left angry but motivated.
Thornton: I had to walk around Boston all summer with that on my shoulders, and it was not fun. Go to get a coffee every morning and hear somebody say, “What the heck happened to you guys?” One thing about that team we played on, Zdeno (Chara), Bergeron, myself, Mark Stuart, Mark Recchi, every one of those guys had the same thing in common, they’re very proud individuals and very hard competitors, so this did not sit well for months waiting until going into next year, so we definitely came into training camp [upset], chip on our shoulder. We had a little bit of swagger as well because we knew we were a good team. We saw what happened with Philly going to the Final that year and thought that should have been us.
Lucic: As disappointed as I was and as heartbroken as I was, I scored five goals in that series. I was feeling really good about my personal game. … I used that as motivation. That was one of the best summers I ever had working out.
The Bruins and Flyers played each other again in the second round in 2011, and Boston again won the first three games. This time there would be no drama; the Bruins finished the sweep with a 5-1 victory. 
Lucic: To play the Flyers again in the same situation just added to it and made it that much better. I wouldn’t say it was a revenge thing, I would say it was more closure that we proved to ourselves that we could get it done and did move on against an opponent that took us down the year before. It rode us all the way to the championship.
Savard: You have to lose before you win. I think that (2010 loss to the Flyers) was the situation that put us over the top. We knew how it felt, we didn’t want to feel that way again. We had a lot of bounces (in 2011), won a couple Game 7s, overtime. I think it just made us stronger in those moments.
After eliminating the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games in the Eastern Conference Final, the Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win their first Stanley Cup championship since 1972.
Thornton: I’m a firm believer that we don’t win in 2011 without 2010 happening.