The NHL went through another phase of expansion and another realignment. The Kansas City Scouts and Washington Capitals entered the league, which was reorganized into four divisions, the Adams and Norris in the Prince of Wales Conference, the Patrick and Smythe Divisions in the Clarence Campbell Conference.
The season was increased to 80 games. The top three teams in each division qualified for the playoffs, with the first-place teams getting byes into the second round.
The first-place finishers were Montreal (Norris Division), Buffalo (Adams), Philadelphia (Patrick), and the surprising Vancouver Canucks in the Smythe Division. The first three had 113 points each, while Vancouver led its division with only 86 points.
For the first time, two expansion teams met in the finals. The Philadelphia Flyers, the defending Stanley Cup champions, took a 3-0 lead in their semifinal series against the New York Islanders, only to see the Islanders win three in a row to force a seventh game. But the Flyers took that game at home to advance to the finals.
The Buffalo Sabres, meanwhile, beat two of the 'Original Six,' the Chicago Blackhawks and the Canadiens, to get there. The Flyers took the first two games at home and Buffalo also won two home games. After Philadelphia's easy 5-1 win in Game 5, the series went back to Buffalo. As he had the year before, Bernie Parent came up with a shutout. The Flyers were also scoreless for two periods, but they scored two goals in the final period to win the game and the cup.
For the second year in a row, Rick MacLeish was the leading scorer in the playoffs, but Parent won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the post-season MVP. He was the first player to win the trophy twice in a row.