15 years later: look back at the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs: May 17, 2006
The Edmonton Oilers were at a peak. After falling behind 2-0 in their Western Conference semi-finals series, the Oilers went on to claim three straight victories and wrested the momentum from the San Jose Sharks. Now on the verge of their first Conference Final appearance since 1992, the Oilers entered Rexall Place that night 15 years ago and delivered a memorable performance.
Michael Peca was a major addition in the summer of 2005, but was overshadowed by the arrival of Chris Pronger. After a calm regular season, Peca woke up in this series. After scoring his first playoff goal in Game 4, Peca would open the scoring that night, scoring the series winner.
Peca would win a puck fight just inside the Sharks’ blueline just over eight minutes into the opening period. After winning the battle, he pulled away from a defender and found himself alone against goalkeeper Vessa Toskala. Peca went from backhand to forehand, then tore a shot over Toskala’s glove at 8:21 of the first frame. No one in the building knew, but it would be enough that night.
The Sharks tested Dwayne Roloson throughout the night, but failed to generate many high danger chances. Everything Roloson saw he stopped. Yet even with the home team 1-0 halfway through the third period, tension was high at Rexall Place. Edmonton just failed to get that second goal to put the game out of reach.
Then, once again, Shawn Horcoff struck.
Ryan Smyth and Todd Harvey went to work deep in the San Jose area, creating a plateau battle that Smyth won. Smyth gave Harvey the puck and he started to force his way to the front of the goal. Seeing his path to goal blocked, Harvey alertly sent a pass into the lunge, where Horcoff was ready and waiting. Horcoff’s rapid fire beat Toskala at 11:37, sending Rexall into a frenzy and putting the Sharks in the rearview mirror for good.
The Sharks had a power play in the final two minutes of the game, going 6-4 with the net empty, but the Oilers relentlessly blocked shot after shot. Slowly but surely the clock bled to zero, and the Oilers had completed the comeback,
In the city they called the “city of champions” it was like in the good old days. The Oilers had left for the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 14 years, and a playoff date with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks awaited them.