In order to celebrate the Edmonton Oilers’ 40-year anniversary AND distract ourselves during this hockey-less nightmare, we’ll be re-living 40 amazing moments from Oilers history. 
Since we probably should be watching that Calgary and Edmonton playoff series we’ve been craving for so long, I’m going to pivot this series over the next few days to look back at some incredible moments from the Battle of Alberta. Today, we have Esa Tikkanen knocking the Flames out of the playoffs days after Theo Fleury scored his famous overtime goal. 
The Trade changed everything for the Oilers.
After Wayne Gretzky was dealt to Los Angeles in the summer of 1988, the Oilers were no longer viewed by opponents as an unbeatable machine. They were suddenly mortal. And, for the first time in years, they were truly underdogs.
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Edmonton had a lull in their first post-Gretzky season, losing to his Kings in the first round of the playoffs, which was their earliest departure since the early 80s. The following year, though, the Oilers proved their doubters wrong by winning their first Stanley Cup without Gretzky leading the way.
But despite that incredible run, the underdog label was one that was going to stick around. In the off-season, Jari Kurri left Edmonton, inking a deal with a club in Italy as he held out for a new contract. Captain Mark Messier dealt with an injury for a good chunk of the 1990-91 season, missing 29 games. With Gretzky and Kurri both gone and Messier dealing with an injury, it was Esa Tikkanen who stepped up for the Oilers, posting a team-leading 69 points.
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The Oilers would finish with a 37–37–6 record and their 80 points were the lowest total they had put up in a season in a decade. It was good enough to net Edmonton the third seed in the Smythe Division, setting up a Battle of Alberta with the second-placed Calgary Flames, who were heavily favoured after putting up a 100-point season. Though the Oilers were only really underdogs on paper the last time the teams met in 1988, they really were actual underdogs this time around.
The Oilers and Flames split the first two games of the series in Calgary, giving the Oilers home-ice advantage heading back to Edmonton, where they’d take both games to grab a commanding 3-1 series lead. The Flames stayed alive with a 5-3 win in Calgary, giving the Oilers a chance to win the series in Edmonton.
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Instead, it was the Flames who got to enjoy a huge moment at Northlands Coliseum. In overtime in Game 6, Theo Fleury scored arguably the most iconic goal in Flames history, which he concluded by sliding across the ice as if he had just won the team the Stanley Cup.
I won’t lie, this celebration is fantastic. You have to give Theo credit where it’s due. That said, the funny thing about this celebration is that, due to how emphatic it was, you associate it with it being in response to scoring a goal that lifted the Flames over the top. In my head, Fleury scored this goal and the Flames moved on to the next round. But that isn’t what happened. All it did was keep them alive for another day.
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Back in Calgary for Game 7, the Flames carried the momentum from Fleury’s overtime goal by jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first period. Esa Tikkanen would cut the lead to 3-1 before the end of the first and the Oilers would tie the game before the end of the second thanks to goals from Tikkanen and Glenn Anderson. Anatoli Semenov would give the Oilers the lead in the third, but the Flames tied the game in the dying minutes to send Game 7 to a winner-take-all overtime.
A few minutes into overtime, Tikkanen, the guy who had been coming through for the Oilers all year, picked up the puck at centre ice, built up speed in the neutral zone, broke in and wired a shot through a Flames defender and past Mike Vernon. Game over. Series over. It was the perfect response. After Oilers fans had to watch Theo Fleury slide around the ice in Edmonton, Tikkanen got to sink the Flames’ playoff run in Calgary.
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Edmonton would go on to take down Gretzky and the Kings in the Smythe Division final before losing to the Minnesota North Stars, who were embarking on their Cinderella run. To this day, Tikkanen’s goal is the most recent one we’ve seen in a Battle of Alberta playoff series. Fleury’s goal might be the one that most remember, but Tikkanen’s was the one that mattered.