Home History books JONES: Another Game 7 to go down in the history books for the Edmonton Oilers

JONES: Another Game 7 to go down in the history books for the Edmonton Oilers

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7 games are extra exquisite, super special and great moments in sports. Teams want to avoid them because they can be such dice rolls, but when you hit them, they need to be embraced, cherished, and placed on pedestals in “I was there” memory banks.

Where will Sunday’s Game 7 in Edmonton Oilers’ Stanley Cup Playoff history end up in your personal ranking of the one you witnessed?

I will have had the privilege of being in the press box for all 11 Game 7s in Oilers history. In many different directions, they have all been memory makers.

• CALGARY 1984

Wayne Gretzky said he was obsessed with his first Game 7 all day. “I only thought of the questions. Where was I? Why didn’t I perform? It was the most critical game of my career so far. It was the most important game in the history of our organization. Gretzky grabbed the game by the throat and the Oilers won 7-4 and captured their first Stanley Cup.

• CALGARY 1986

On the back of a raw recruit, a dynasty died. On his 23rd birthday, Steve Smith effectively ended one of the greatest playoff series ever played. With the score tied at 2-2, Smith came out from behind his own net and attempted a pass down the ice, hitting goaltender Grant Fuhr with the puck entering the net at 5:14 of the third period. Calgary would win 3-2 to end an eventual five-game Stanley Cup streak.

• 1987 PHILADELPHIA

The first game of Kelly Buchberger’s career, 21, was Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final. Nervous? “If he had been a racehorse, we would have had to retire him,” said Craig MacTavish. The Oilers won 3-1. “The guy for us was Gretzky. Wayne showed why he’s the greatest player in the world,” coach Glen Sather said. But it was Flyers goaltender Ron Hextall, who made 40 saves in Game 7 in Edmonton, that won the Conn Smythe MVP Trophy.

• 1989 LOS ANGELES

Gretzky was sold to the Kings and the Oilers would meet the Kings in the second round. Mark Messier went out of his way to hit No. 99 early in the series. “It’s not really fun. It doesn’t seem right. I am godfather to his daughter Paulina,” Messier said. In Los Angeles, the Kings won Game 7, 6-3 to become the fourth team in history to come back from 3-1 to win a series.

• 1990 WINNIPEG

Bill Ranford was a mess in goal for the Oilers in Game 1 and early in the first-round series. “He is not the first goalkeeper to have his problems. It’s up to Billy to fight back,” coach John Muckler said. Ranford played very well in a pair of 4-3 wins and the Oilers came home for Game 7 and won it 4-1. The Oilers won their fifth Stanley Cup and Ranford won the Smythe as playoff MVP.

• 1991 CALGARY

It’s one thing to win a Stanley Cup playoff game in Game 7. It’s another to put your name to a Game 7 like Esa Tikkanen did to win it. Tikkanen scored three goals including the winner at 6:10 of extra time. It would be the last time the two teams would meet in the playoffs in an Alberta battle.

• 1997 DALLAS

The following year, after Edmonton won twice in overtime in their first-round series against the Dallas Stars, and Todd Marchant won it in OT in Game 7 at Reunion Arena. Marchant broke in alone and fired a shot off former Oiler tackle Andy Moog for the 4-3 win at 12:26 OT. The Oilers had eight rookies in the game.

• 1998 COLORADO

Opening the playoffs against the Avalanche, the Oilers looked set to come out early, but picked up big elimination wins in Games 5 and 6 only to find themselves in Game 7 at McNichols Arena. “I don’t think there was anyone who thought we were going to come here for a game and be four goals up,” Sather said of the 4-0 win.

• 2006 CAROLINA

It was the first time that two former WHA franchises advanced to the Finals and the first time that a Finals featured two teams that missed the playoffs the previous season. If Dwayne Roloson, GM goalkeeper Kevin Lowe acquired mid-season, hadn’t been injured in Game 1, it probably would have been the sixth Cup. A 4-0 win in Game 6 sent the Oilers to Game 7 in Carolina where they lost 3-1.

• ANAHEIM 2017

The Ducks won 2-1 in the Pacific Division Finals as the Ducks snapped a four-game losing streak in Game 7 at home at Honda Center. They hadn’t led at home in regular time since the first game. The Oilers squandered leads and lost two games in overtime. Edmonton has lost four of the last five games. “He shouldn’t even have made it to a seventh game, so you know it sucks to lose that one,” Oilers forward Milan Lucic said.

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