Montreal Canadiens win Stanley Cup
The 1976 Stanley Cup Final NHL championship series was contested by the defending champion Philadelphia Flyers, making their third-straight Final appearance and the Montreal Canadiens.
This was the Canadiens first appearance in the Final since their Cup win in the 1973 Final. The Canadiens would win the best-of-seven series four games to none.
Montreal defeated the Chicago Black Hawks 4–0 and the New York Islanders 4–1 to advance to the final. Philadelphia defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4–3 and the Boston Bruins 4–1 to make it to the final.
Guy Lafleur scored the first two Finals goals in his career, both game-winners.
Reggie Leach scored four times in the Final, and 19 times in total in the play-offs to win the Conn Smythe Trophy despite the Flyers losing to the Canadiens.
For the Flyers, this finals appearance is especially noted because it was the last time a defending major professional sports champion from Philadelphia returned to their league's championship series until the Phillies reached the 2009 World Series.
For the third year in a row, the Philadelphia Flyers made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Unlike the previous two years, however, Philadelphia came up against a much stronger team. The Montreal Canadiens had won a regular season record 58 games and cruised past Chicago and the New York Islanders, losing only one game in the process. The Flyers could not defeat the powerhouse Canadiens and were swept in four games. Montreal's Guy Lafleur led all skaters with seven points in the final series. One bright spot for Philadelphia was Reggie Leach who scored a record 19 post-season goals and took home the Conn Smythe Trophy.
In the spring of 1976 Montreal played two more postseason than games than in 1975 but began their summer vacation in a much better frame of mind than a year prior.
The Smythe Division champion, Chicago Blackhawks, had finished with 35 fewer regular season points than the Habs. Coached by former Canadiens forward, Billy Reay, they mustered only three goals in the four games it took for Montreal to send them packing.
The New York Islanders fared a little better. Backs to the wall after losing each of the previous confrontations by a one-goal margin, Al Arbour’s men managed a win in the fourth game, staving off elimination for a few days.
The Philadelphia Flyers had scored more goals than any other NHL team over the regular schedule and went into the playoffs with a chance to three-peat as Stanley Cup Champions. Neither Chicago nor the Islanders were able to do them the favor of knocking off Montreal so the Flyers and Canadiens were set to face off for hockey’s Holy Grail.
Billed as a battle of skill versus brawn, the epic clash saw two-time defending champion Broad Street Bullies get all they could handle from the high-flying Canadiens.
The best defense in the league came to the forefront when it was most needed. Montreal took the first two at home, winning 4-3 and 2-1 before moving to the Spectrum where they continued to roll with a 3-2 victory in the third game.
The final game saw the teams deadlocked at three goals each well into the third period. With less than six minutes left in regulation time, a Guy Lafleur goal snapped the tie. It held up as the winner and Pete Mahovlich added an insurance marker before the final siren sounded.
Fifteen men on the roster that won the 19th Stanley Cup in team history would remain with the Canadiens for the rest of the decade, driving the team total to 22 before the dawn of the 1980s.