STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS CONFERENCE FINALS RECAP – June 4, 2024

The Panthers and Oilers each rallied from a series deficit to advance in a Conference Finals that featured more upsets, close games and star players shining when the lights are brightest. Click here for the 10 storylines you need to know about the 2024 Conference Finals.

PANTHERS LOOKING FOR FIRST STANLEY CUP IN THIRD FINAL APPEARANCE
The Panthers are no stranger to the Stanley Cup Final, having made two previous trips in their 30-year history (1996 & 2023). Despite this, Florida is still in search of its first championship title and will look to capitalize on this opportunity after failing to do so last season.

1996 Stanley Cup Final: 4-0 L vs. COL
After besting the offensive-powerhouse Penguins to become the third club in NHL history to make the Stanley Cup Final in its first postseason (also TAN in 1918 & STL in 1968), the Panthers met with Joe Sakic and the Avalanche in the 1996 Final – it marked the second in the NHL’s modern era (since 1943-44) to feature two franchises looking for their first championship. The series would only last four games, with Colorado outscoring Florida 15-4 over that span and earning two comeback wins.

2023 Stanley Cup Final: 4-1 L vs. VGK
Despite being the underdog in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Panthers became the third team in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) to advance to the Final as the lowest-seeded team in the playoffs (also MTL in 2021 & NSH in 2017) where they met the Golden Knights. Vegas took a 2-0 series lead but the “Comeback Cats” stormed back in Game 3 to earn an overtime victory and their first-ever win in the Final. However, the success was short lived as the Golden Knights went on to win the next two contests and become the second-fastest franchise in the League’s modern era (since 1943-44) to win the Stanley Cup (6 seasons) behind the Oilers (1984: 5 seasons).

OILERS SET FOR EIGHTH STANLEY CUP FINAL APPEARANCE
The Oilers, who look to become the first Canadian team in over 30 years to win the Stanley Cup (last: MTL in 1993), will appear in the Stanley Cup Final for the eighth time in franchise history and first since 2006. Edmonton’s previous trips to the Final include a dynasty of Hall of Famers such as Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey and Grant Fuhr as well as a Cinderella run that included unforgettable performances from the likes of Fernando Pisani and Chris Pronger.

1983 Stanley Cup Final: 4-0 L vs. NYI

Before becoming the eventual dynasty that would win five Stanley Cups in a seven-year window, the Oilers learned a hard lesson from an already established dynasty in the 1983 Stanley Cup Final. In the first Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history, the Oilers were swept by the Islanders – who claimed their fourth consecutive championship. It marked Wayne Gretzky’s first Stanley Cup Final appearance (0-4—4 in 4 GP).

1984 Stanley Cup Final: 4-1 W vs. NYI

The Oilers flipped the script from the previous year, dispatching the four-time defending Stanley Cup champion Islanders in five games. Making his Stanley Cup Final debut, goaltender Grant Fuhr posted a shutout in Game 1 at Nassau Coliseum, ending the Islanders’ streak of nine consecutive wins in the championship series. Wayne Gretzky led all Oilers skaters with 4-3—7 across the five-game series.

1985 Stanley Cup Final: 4-1 W vs. PHI

For the second straight season, the Oilers needed just five games to dispatch their opponent in the Stanley Cup Final – this time eliminating the Flyers in five games. Edmonton littered the record book with achievements in the 1985 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Wayne Gretzky set NHL records for assists (30) and points (47) in a playoff year, with the latter mark still standing as the most in NHL history, and tied the modern-day mark for goals in a Stanley Cup Final (7). Jari Kurri (19) matched the NHL record for goals in a playoff year, while current assistant coach Paul Coffey (12-25—37 in 18 GP) set the mark for most points by a defenseman in a single playoff year.

1987 Stanley Cup Final: 4-3 W vs. PHI

After a one-year absence, the Oilers found themselves back in the Stanley Cup Final against a familiar foe in the Flyers, who they also faced in their previous trip to the championship series. This time it took seven games for the Oilers to claim their third Stanley Cup in a four-season span, marking the first time in 16 years that the Final required a seventh and deciding contest. Jari Kurri, who led all skaters with 15 goals in the 1987 Stanley Cup Playoffs (including five in the Final), scored the Cup-clinching, game-winning goal in Game 7.

1988 Stanley Cup Final: 4-0 W vs. BOS

The Oilers won their fourth Stanley Cup in five seasons with a sweep of the Bruins and for the first time since 1927, a Stanley Cup Final game failed to determine a winner. During the fourth game of the series, a power failure at Boston Garden halted play at 16:37 of the second period with the score tied 3‑3. Under NHL by-laws, the contest was suspended, to be made up in its entirety only if a Game 7 was necessary. The series shifted back to Edmonton, where the Oilers, still holding a 3‑0 series lead, recorded a 6‑3 victory to win the Stanley Cup. Wayne Gretzky captured the Conn Smythe Trophy for a second time, setting a Stanley Cup Final record with 13 points in the series (3‑10—13) in what would be his final championship with the franchise.

1990 Stanley Cup Final: 4-1 W vs. BOS

The Oilers captured their fifth Stanley Cup in seven years and first since trading Wayne Gretzky in 1988, defeating the Bruins in the Final for the second time in three seasons. The two teams battled for 55:13 of overtime in Game 1 at Boston Garden before Edmonton’s Petr Klima ended the marathon encounter with the game-winner in the longest overtime in Stanley Cup Final history. Goaltender Bill Ranford, who earned all 16 postseason victories for the Oilers, won the Conn Smythe Trophy. Seven players – Glenn Anderson, Grant Fuhr, Randy Gregg, Charlie Huddy, Jari Kurri, Kevin Lowe and Mark Messier – won their fifth Stanley Cup with the franchise.

2006 Stanley Cup Final: 4-3 L vs. CAR

After a 16-year gap, the Oilers made their way back to the Stanley Cup Final after entering the postseason as the Western Conference’s lowest seed – the first No. 8 seed ever to make the championship series. The Oilers were led in points by defenseman Chris Pronger (5-16—21 in 24 GP), who also netted the first penalty-shot goal in Stanley Cup Final history in Game 1. The run was sparked by unlikely playoff hero Fernando Pisani, who led all skaters with 14 goals in the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs including a series-leading five in the Final. His playoff goal total was just four fewer than the career-high 18 goals he scored during the 2005-06 regular season.

TOP PLAYOFF PERFORMERS OF PAST TWO POSTSEASONS SET TO FACE OFF
The 2024 Stanley Cup Final is sure to be an offensive showing as seven of the top 10 playoff scorers from the past three postseasons will take the ice, including Oilers captain Connor McDavid (23-61—84 in 46 GP) and Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk (20-33—53 in 49 GP) who both lead their respective clubs in points over that span.

  • McDavid, who leads the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs with 5-26—31 (18 GP), enters Game 1 two points back of tying his most in a single postseason. The Oilers captain has accumulated that many points with the help of nine multi-point games this postseason and sits one such outing back of hitting double digits for the second time in his career (also 12 GP in 2022). Should he do so, McDavid would become just the fourth player in NHL history to record 10 or more multi-point games in a single playoff year multiple times – he would join Sidney Crosby (2x: 12 GP in 2009 & 11 GP in 2008), Mario Lemieux (2x: 14 GP in 1991 & 11 GP in 1992) and Wayne Gretzky (5x: 14 GP in 1988, 13 GP in 1985, 12 GP in 1984, 11 GP in 1983 & 10 GP in 1993).
  • Tkachuk, who leads the Panthers with 5-14—19 (17 GP), enters the Stanley Cup Final five points shy of his franchise record-setting point total from Florida’s 2023 run (11-13—24 in 20 GP). With his next point, Tkachuk would become the seventh U.S.-born player to record 20 points in consecutive postseasons – he would join Jake Guentzel (2017-2018), Phil Kessel (2016-2017), Patrick Kane (2014-2015), Mike Modano (1999-2000), Kevin Stevens (1991-1992) and Craig Janney (1990-1991).

STANLEY CUP FINALS SCHEDULE

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