8. Upsetting the Canadiens
The year was 1981. The Oilers finished 6 games below .500 in the regular season (good enough for the 14th seed in the NHL) and as a result of the playoff format at the time, had to play the #3 seed…the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens of 1981 were still a hockey powerhouse featuring the likes of Guy Lafleur and Larry Robinson, so needless to say there was plenty of scepticism heading into this one, even by the Oilers players. The Canadiens expected an easy win, and Lafleur even told the Montreal press that he would put Gretzky “in [his] hip pocket.” It obviously made for good bulletin board material in the Oilers locker room because in Game 1 of the series, the Oilers won 6-3 with Gretzky recording 5 assists. They won Game 2 by a score of 3-1 and after two losses at the Forum, the Habs were shocked. The Oilers put the series away in Game 3 when Mark Napier gave the puck away to Gretzky who turned it into a short-handed goal, giving the Oilers a 4-2 lead. They would go on to win the game 6-2 and complete the sweep of the Canadiens.
This moment provided the hockey world with a glimpse of the kind of team the Oilers would become and galvanized the fan base in Edmonton. Unfortunately, the Oilers would lose in the quarter-finals to the eventual champions, the New York Islanders.
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