History had already been made earlier in the road trip, all the way back on the final Tuesday of 2010, when the Flyers lost in Vancouver for the first time since 1989.
On the first Sunday of 2011, an historic occurrence of a more positive note unfolded.
Brian Boucher celebrated his 34th birthday by stopping 25-of-27 shots as the Philadelphia Flyers erased more than 22 years of frustration in Detroit with a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
"It’s nice, but I don’t think it was on our minds to get the win for that reason," Boucher said about losses in Vancouver and Anaheim sandwiched around a win at Los Angeles. "We hadn’t been playing very well in the last four games and we wanted a big effort and end the road trip on the right note. That was more our focus."
James van Riemsdyk, Dan Carcillo and Scott Hartnell notched second-period scores for the Flyers, who nearly wasted a three-goal lead but posted their first win — regular season or playoffs — in the Motor City since November 4, 1988.
On that Friday evening during the Reagan Presidency, Murray Craven notched the game-winner with 13 seconds left in regulation while being gonged in the face by the stick of Miroslav Frycer.
It neutralized a hat trick from Wings franchise icon Steve Yzerman in an early-season game that featured current Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren in his first year as head coach.
Philadelphia had gone 0-16-2 since then, including two losses in the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals.
With the victory, the Flyers tied idle Pittsburgh atop the Atlantic Division with 53 points, and joined the Penguins and Red Wings atop the NHL standings.
"This makes it .500 on the road trip, two wins and two losses," noted Hartnell. "We fought hard tonight, it took 60 minutes to seal the win. They had a lot of pressure late and the guys who were out there did a great job."
Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg tallied in the third period for the Red Wings, who have dropped consecutive one-goal decisions on home ice.
Jimmy Howard suffered the loss, pulled after allowing three goals on 27 shots in two periods. Chris Osgood finished the game by halting all five shots he faced.
Osgood was tested in the first 30 seconds of the period, but he made two pad stops in close on Mike Richards.
Shortly thereafter, the gamble to replace Howard with a 400-game winner paid off. Johan Franzen hit Filppula, who went around a Flyers defenseman and whipped a shot home from the left wing at 51 seconds.
Boucher snagged a sizzling wrister from Franzen roughly 7 1/2 minutes in but was helpless on a Detroit power play with 7:32 remaining as Zetterberg scored on the backhand to make it 3-2.
Detroit maintained pressure and the Flyers were reduced to long clearing attempts. Philly’s best chance down the stretch came with 2:40 left, but Danny Briere’s wraparound was squeezed off between Osgood’s pads.
The Wings gained an extra skater starting with 1:07 to play, but failed to generate a quality shot until the buzzer.
"I like responding in the first (period). That’s the way to win," said Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. "Catch-up hockey is losing hockey and we can’t do that all the time. Once in a while you can pull something out of your hat but not often."
The Red Wings failed to convert on an early 5-on-3 advantage, then after the Flyers couldn’t convert a power-play chance, Boucher stoned Darren Helm on a clear breakaway.
Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead at the 51-second mark of the second, as van Riemsdyk’s attempted centering pass from the boards along the goal line caromed off a Red Wing stick and sailed by Howard.
Seconds after Carcillo was unable to lift a puck over a prone Howard at the right post, the disc found its way back to the point to Andrej Meszaros, who ripped a shot that Carcillo did deflect home at 5:32.
Hartnell made it 3-0 with 5:36 left in the second when he managed to lift a shot through bodies at the left post and under the crossbar.
After stopping all nine shots he faced in the first period, Boucher added 11 more saves in the second.
"I thought we gave the puck away, gave them some chances with some turnovers," said Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. "They played really disciplined, especially in the neutral zone where we didn’t have a lot of room."
Notes: Philadelphia improved to 13-5-3 all-time on January 2 and have taken six in a row since a loss at San Jose on January 2, 2002…The three goals in the second period was the most for the Flyers in Detroit since tallying four times in the third during a 9-6 loss on February 16, 1990…Carcillo hadn’t scored since October 29…The Red Wings begin a five-game trip at Edmonton on Tuesday.