1984 Stanley Cup Final, Game 5, May
Edmonton 5, NY Islanders 2
Despite all of the goal-scoring
records, the Edmonton Oilers had not
earned the respect of the National Hockey
League. Although the team had the sport’s
most-watched player in
Gretzky, the franchise had yet to lay claim on
hockey’s most-coveted prize, the Stanley Cup.
The Oilers were the NHL’s flashiest
team, but experts still hailed the New York Islanders as
the League’s top club. The Isles had won four Stanley
Cups in a row, including a sweep of the Oilers in the 1983 final
that saw New York outscore Edmonton 17-6 in
the series. The Islanders were led by legends like scoring forwards Mike
Bossy and Bryan Trottier, defensive stalwart Denis
Potvin and goaltender Billy Smith. Over the last few
seasons, the Islanders showed the Oilers what it would
take to win the Cup.
Coming into the 1984 final, the
Islanders had won nine championship series games in a
row, and had just swept both the 1982 and 1983 finals.
That year, the Islanders held home ice advantage in the series, which
appeared to favour New York. However, the NHL decided to tinker with the finals format that
season, creating a Stanley Cup schedule that mirrored
that of the National Basketball Association or
baseball’s World Series. After the teams played their
first two games in Uniondale, N.Y., the series would
shift to Northlands Coliseum for three games
and then back
to New York for another two, if necessary. The Oilers knew that if they could get
at least a split at the
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, they would have the
advantage of three straight games at home.
plan of splitting the games in New York worked based on
the team's defence. Grant Fuhr
out-dueled Smith in a 1-0 Game 1 victory that saw
enforcer Kevin McClelland become the unlikely winning goal
hero. The Oilers showed the mighty
that they could be beat. In game 2, the New York
stormed back with a 6-1 win, and Islanders fans
chanting "Drive for Five" as the teams left for
Edmonton. However, by splitting the series, the Oilers had gained confidence
from their New York trip and prepared to play inspired hockey in front
of the home fans.
Games 3 and 4 of the series were a
rout. The Oilers' stronger offence bombarded Smith, and Edmonton took home a pair of 7-2 wins.
With game 5 in Edmonton, the Oilers could take the Cup
on home ice.
Many Edmontonians were already
celebrating after the first two periods of Game 5. The
Oilers dominated, and were up by a decisive 4-0 margin
after two periods. But the defending champions came out
with new fire in the third. Their young sniper Pat LaFontaine scored two goals in
quick succession to put
the game back into doubt.
"The first thing that sticks out in
my mind from that first Stanley Cup was the team that we
beat," recalled Oilers’ defender Lee Fogolin. "The
Islanders were such a great team and they were great
champions. They had a never-say-die attitude and playing
against them, you could never trust any lead you had. In
the deciding game, we were up 4-0 after two periods, and
they changed their game for the third period. All of a
sudden, they score two quick goals and I remember Kevin
(Lowe) looking at me on the bench and saying, ‘Holy
Although the Islanders pushed
for another goal, Oilers’ goalie Andy Moog,
a solid replacement for Grant Fuhr who injured his shoulder in Game 3, would not
relent. Finally, with less than a minute left in the
game, forward Dave Lumley got hold of a loose puck in
the Oilers’ end and fired into the empty Islanders’ net.
The Oilers clinched the Cup.
Mark Messier, who netted eight goals
and added 18 assists in 19 playoff games, won the Conn
Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. And, as NHL
president John Ziegler handed the Stanley Cup to Oilers’
captain Wayne Gretzky, the boys from Edmonton sent a
message to the world: the old dynasty was over, and a new
one is beginning.