The Edmonton Oilers were peaking. After falling behind 2-0 in their Western Conference Semifinal series, the Oilers rattled off three straight victories and ripped momentum away from the San Jose Sharks. Now on the brink of their first Conference Final appearance since 1992, the Oilers entered Rexall Place on this night 15 years ago and delivered a performance to remember.
Michael Peca was a major addition in the summer of 2005, but was overshadowed by the arrival of Chris Pronger. After a quiet regular season, Peca woke up in this series. After scoring his first goal of the playoffs in Game 4, Peca would open the scoring on this night, scoring the eventual series winner.
Peca would win a puck battle just inside the Sharks blueline just over eight minutes into the opening period. After winning the battle, he spun away from a defenseman and got in all alone on goaltender Vessa Toskala. Peca went from backhand to forehand, then ripped a shot over Toskala’s glove at 8:21 of the opening frame. Little did anyone in the building know, but that would be enough on this night.
The Sharks tested Dwayne Roloson throughout the night, but failed to generate many high-danger chances. Everything Roloson saw, he stopped. Still, even with the home team up 1-0 over halfway through the third period, tension was high inside of Rexall Place. Edmonton just hadn’t been able 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 zone, creating a board battle that Smyth won. Smyth fed Harvey the puck, and he started to make his way towards the front of the goal. Seeing that his lane to the goal was blocked, Harvey alertly sent a pass into the slot, where Horcoff was ready and waiting. Horcoff’s quick shot beat Toskala at 11:37, sending Rexall into a frenzy and putting the Sharks in the rearview mirror for good.
The Sharks had a powerplay in the final two minutes of the game, going 6-on-4 with the net empty, but the Oilers relentlessly blocked shot after shot. Slowly but surely, the clock bled out to zero, and the Oilers had completed the comeback,
In the city they called the ‘City of Champions’, this was just like old times. The Oilers were off to the Western Conference Final for the first time in 14 years, and a playoff date with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim awaited them.