On this day in 1983, Edmonton Oilers drop game one of Stanley Cup Finals
20 days ago
Fourty years ago today, the Edmonton Oilers would fall 2-0 to the New York Islanders in game one in their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in franchise history.
Usually, we like to remember the good days, not the bad ones, but this was the year the Oilers had a turning point in the organization and their success became the blueprint team for years to come.
On May 10th, 1983, 17,498 fans filled Northlands Coliseum for the Oilers’ first Stanley Cup final game. Their opponents? The defending champions from Long Island. The Oilers, meanwhile, had just come off of three insane playoff rounds.
Finishing first in the Smythe Division, the Oilers would face the Winnipeg Jets in the division semi-final sweeping them out of the cup run. Wayne Gretzky would have his first four-goal NHL game in game one, leading the Oilers to a 6-3 victory.
Coming out hot in the second round, the Oilers would win the first three games against the Calgary Flames. The Flames would have their taste of victory in game four but eventually fall short to Edmonton in game five, pushing the Oilers into the Conference Final. This would mark the first time the Battle of Alberta would make a playoff appearance, but certainly not the last.
Confident after beating one of their biggest rivals, the Campbell Conference final brought the windy city to Edmonton. The wind didn’t last long, and the Oilers would clean up the Chicago Blackhawks, sending themselves into the Cup final in four short games. With a record of 11 wins and one loss, the boys in blue and orange would outscore their opponents 74-33 moving into the final round.
A home-ice advantage and New York without Mike Bossy, their leading scorer, had thrown optimism in the air leading into game one. The Islanders, however, must have also felt confident, holding a 3-0 record against the Oilers in their three matchups during regular season play.
Not long into the first period, the Islanders forward Duane Sutter would bury one past Oilers goaltender Andy Moog, leading the game into the second. With two New York penalties and 12 shots on the net, the Oilers struggled to find twine in the second. With only one period left of play, Edmonton would have several power play opportunities, all of which didn’t post the results they wanted. In a last attempt to get back in the game, Moog would head to the bench, and the Oilers would activate a sixth player, but defenceman Ken Marrow would have the last laugh putting one more into the net polishing off the Islanders’ first win of the series.
At the time, Edmonton Journal scripe Tom Barrett would deem Islanders netminder Billy Smith “Public Enemy No.1” after game one after Smith slashed Oilers winger Glenn Anderson in the leg.
“The deafening roar that greeted the Oilers Tuesday will sound like a whisper compared to what happens when the first red light goes on behind Public Enemy Number One, Billy Smith. They may even scream louder if someone knocks Mr. Obnoxious right on his can.”
Although the Oilers would fail to lift the Cup at the end of four games, these playoffs, this team, and their entire year would ultimately set them up for success in 1984.
They would have their second straight 100-point plus season and win the Smythe division for the second consecutive year. The Oilers would break the NHL record for most goals in a season at 424 and tie the Boston Bruins’ 1971 record for four 100-point scorers (Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, and Jari Kurri). As the successes added up, and the better the boys got at playing the game, it was only fitting for them to finally have their revenge on Public Enemy No.1, Smith, and the rest of the Islanders winning their first franchise Stanley Cup in 1984.
Aleena Aksenchuk is an intern with Oilersnation and the Nation Network. She can be found on twitter at @A_Aksenchuk8
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