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The Oilers Were The Spoilers
Jack Falla
May 28, 1984
An era ended as Edmonton's Oilers wrested the Stanley Cup from the Islanders after Wayne Gretzky got going in Game 4 (right)
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May 28, 1984

The Oilers Were The Spoilers

An era ended as Edmonton's Oilers wrested the Stanley Cup from the Islanders after Wayne Gretzky got going in Game 4 (right)

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Sather was right, and Game 3 became the turning point of the series. After a first-period Gillies goal put New York ahead, Lowe went in on Smith down the left side. Instead of shooting, Lowe risked cutting in on the goal, teasing Smith with the puck and drawing it around him when the goalie lunged. Lowe slid the puck into an empty net. That move, in several different forms, would be repeated through the rest of the playoffs as Smith began blocking shadows and moving on shots not taken.

With the Islanders up 2-1 in the second period, Messier—later named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, i.e., MVP of the playoffs—scored a monster goal, "the biggest of the series," Lowe would say later. After taking a breakout pass, Messier, one of the strongest and fastest Oiler forwards, bore down on veteran defenseman Denis Potvin and rookie defenseman Gord Dineen.

"Who would you pick? Me or Potvin?" Dineen said later.

Messier undressed the 21-year-old Dineen, faking him outside, cutting back inside, and beat Smith with a 20-footer to the short side. Speed kills, and the Oilers seemed to have it all.

Anderson and Coffey added goals—both on rebounds—17 seconds apart in the final minute of the second period. Anderson scored because that well-known mucker Gretzky waded into the right corner with Potvin and actually won a battle for the puck.

"When I'm not scoring I can contribute in other ways," said Gretzky, who was doing more work than usual in the combat zones.

After McClelland made it 6-2 Oilers at 5:52 of the third period, Islander coach Al Arbour yanked Smith in favor of Rollie Melanson. "We want Billy!" screamed the crowd, to whom Smith has been such a symbol of frustration for the previous four years.

"I hate Billy Smith so much that when they pulled him from the goal I mooned the television set," Oiler fan Rob Sgambaro told The Edmonton Journal.

In the other end, Fuhr was back in the form he'd shown in the first game. He charged out to challenge the shooters and though that opened up some angles to the sides, the Oiler defensemen, especially Lowe, didn't let many Islanders get behind or beside their goalie so the open goalmouth didn't become a liability. However, when Fuhr went after a loose puck in the left corner in the second period, he was knocked down by Islander center Pat LaFontaine, who had been knocked into Fuhr by Oiler Pat Hughes. Fuhr bruised his right shoulder, and though he finished that period and started the third, he was replaced by backup Andy Moog with 7:34 to go, and didn't play again in the series.

"Our big guns are out and firing now," said Oiler forward Dave Lumley with a smile after the game. But near him in the dressing room a more serious Paul Coffey stared at photographs, taped to a door, of Bobby Orr, Jean Beliveau and Potvin holding the Stanley Cup. "We're a step closer, but nowhere nearer," he said respectfully, acutely aware that a 2-1 lead over the Islanders didn't give the Oilers a lock on the Cup.

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