HIGHLIGHTS: 1985 - Game 5 vs. Philadelphia
HIGHLIGHTS: 1987 - Game 7 vs. Philadelphia
HIGHLIGHTS: 1988 - Game 4 vs. Boston
HIGHLIGHTS: 1990 - Game 5 vs. Boston
After a heartbreaking second-round loss to the Calgary Flames a year earlier, the Edmonton Oilers found themselves back in the Stanley Cup Final in 1987. Edmonton was making its fourth Final appearance in five years, seeking its third championship in four seasons. A familiar foe was there to greet them in the Philadelphia Flyers, as the teams battled for the Cup in a rematch of the '85 Final, which the Oilers won in five games.
This time around, the Flyers boasted a Vezina-winning goaltender who they hoped could shut down Edmonton's vaunted offense: Ron Hextall. The 23-year-old netminder would have his hands full with three of the top four scorers in the League: Wayne Gretzky (183 points to lead the League), Jari Kurri (108 points), and Mark Messier (107 points). The stage was set for an epic series between the teams which finished with the two best records in the League for the third year in a row.
Gretzky and company fueled the Oilers to a 2-0 series lead, maintaining home-ice advantage before heading to Philly for Game 3. The change in venue seemed to have no effect on Edmonton’s high-powered attack, as the Oilers stormed out to a 3-0 lead early in the second period. But sensing the urgency, the Flyers scored five unanswered goals and posted their first win of the series, 5-3. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the momentum did not carry over to Game 4, as Gretzky tallied three assists in a 4-1 win for Edmonton.
Returning to Canada with a 3-1 series lead, another Oilers championship seemed imminent, as plans for a parade appeared in the day’s newspapers. With the Oilers leading 3-1 lead midway through Game 5, it appeared the parade would go on as planned. However, the Flyers stormed back to win, 4-3, and forced Game 6, where they faced another two-goal deficit. Astonishingly, they once again rallied for a one-goal victory as J.J. Daigneault’s blue-line blast broke a 2-2 tie and sent the Philadelphia Spectrum crowd into a frenzy.
In the decisive final game, Hextall made 40 saves and the Flyers jumped out to a 1-0 advantage, but goals by Messier, Kurri, and Glenn Anderson ensured there would be a parade in Edmonton after all. Despite just coming up short, Hextall’s efforts were recognized with the Conn Smythe Trophy, capping off a terrific rookie campaign. It was just the fourth time ever that the postseason MVP came from the losing team, and the second year in a row that a rookie goalie won the Conn Smythe (Patrick Roy won it in 1986).
As great as Hextall was, the glory ultimately belonged to Edmonton. The 3-1 Game 7 win turned the Oilers into a dynasty, clinching their third Cup in four years in one of the greatest Cup Finals in NHL history. Author: NHL.com Staff