"But give the
Oilers credit," said former Islander captain Ed Westfall, now a TV analyst,
before Game 5. "They're breaking down the great defensive capabilities of
the Islanders. They're doing it with offensive push and speed. They'll get one
guy to make a mistake and somebody has to cover for that man and you get a
continous breakdown compounding itself."
The Oilers also
prevented the Islanders from setting up in the attacking zone by moving the
puck out with short passes up the boards rather than with the long, risky,
up-the-middle bombs they tried futilely in '83.
By Friday, the
city of Edmonton and its team sensed that the result of Game 5 was
foreordained. At posh and pricey Walden's restaurant on 104 Street, an
"Oiler special" featuring roast Long Island duckling had been added to
Smitty?" asked a diner, pointing to a duck dish.
the waiter, "Smitty is the turkey."
Just before the
Oilers took the ice for Game 5 on Saturday, Gretzky stood up in the dressing
room and, according to Lowe, said, "I've had a lot of individual honors and
personal recognition, but nothing I've ever done, won or received means as much
to me as winning the Cup."
With that, Gretzky
opened the game with a pair of first-period goals on Smith, who was once again
replaced by Melanson at the start of the second period. Melanson allowed a goal
by Ken Linseman within 38 seconds and then Kurri scored just over four minutes
later. Both goals came on power plays, each created by a penalty committed by
Two goals in the
first 35 seconds of the third period by Islander rookie Pat LaFontaine had
Sather pacing the bench, telling his players to relax. From then on the Oiler
defense tightened up.
An empty-net goal
by Lumley at 19:47 set off a rain of streamers and balloons. And the end of the
game brought dozens of fans onto the ice where they engulfed their Oilers.
There developed a giant human swarm, with Gretzky in the middle holding high
the Cup. This year it signified not just the winning of the championship, but
also the changing of the guard—and the game.