1987 Stanley Cup Finals

The 1987 Stanley Cup Final was played between Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. The Oilers won the series 4–3, for their third Stanley Cup victory. This would be the fifth of eight consecutive Finals contested by a team from Alberta (the Oilers appeared in six, the Calgary Flames in two) & the 4th of 5 consecutive Finals to end with the Cup presentation on Alberta ice (the Oilers won 4 times, the Montreal Canadiens once).

1987 Stanley Cup Finals
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Total
Edmonton Oilers 4 3 3 4 3 2 3 4
Philadelphia Flyers 2 2 5 1 4 3 1 3
* overtime periods
Location(s) Edmonton (Northlands Coliseum) (1,2,5,7)

Philadelphia (Spectrum) (3,4,6)

Coaches Edmonton: Glen Sather

Philadelphia: Mike Keenan

Captains Edmonton: Wayne Gretzky

Philadelphia: Dave Poulin

Referees Dave Newell (1,6)
Andy Van Hellemond (2,4,7)
Don Koharski (3,5)
Dates May 17 – May 31
MVP Ron Hextall (Flyers)
Series-winning goal Jari Kurri (14:59, second,G7)
Networks CBC (Canada-English, 1, 2, 6, 7),

Global/Can-West (Canada-English, 3, 4, 5, and 7),
SRC (Canada-French),
ESPN (United States),
PRISM (Philadelphia area, 3, 4, 6),
WGBS (Philadelphia area, 1, 2, 5, 7)

Announcers Bob Cole and Harry Neale (CBC)

Dan Kelly and John Davidson (Global-CanWest)
Mike Emrick and Bill Clement (ESPN)
Gene Hart and Bobby Taylor (PRISM and WGBS)

  • ← 1986
  • Stanley Cup Finals
  • 1988 →

Path to the FinalEdit

For the third straight year, the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers finished the regular season with the two best records in the NHL. (In 1984–85, Philadelphia were first in NHL standings and Edmonton second; in both 1985–86 and 1986–87, the positions were reversed.) While Oilers' success came from their vaunted offense, Philadelphia relied on grit, defensive play & solid goaltending from Vezina Trophy winner Ron Hextall.

Edmonton cruised into the Finals with relative ease, losing only 2 games in the process. They beat Los Angeles Kings in 5 games, swept Winnipeg Jets and then beat Detroit Red Wings in 5 to win the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl for the fourth time in five years. Meanwhile, Philadelphia had a much harder road. It took them 6 games to knock off New York Rangers, went the full 7 against New York Islanders & then beat Montreal (the reigning champion) in 6 to claim their second Prince of Wales Trophy in 3 years.

The SeriesEdit

Edmonton and Philadelphia met in the Finals for the second time in 3 years. This time, Edmonton was the regular-season champion with 50 wins and 106 points, and Philadelphia was second with 46 wins and 100 points.

This was a rematch of the 1985 Stanley Cup Finals where Edmonton beat Philadelphia in 5 games. Unlike the 1985 Finals, this series went to 7 games. Edmonton took the first 2 games at home, then split in Philadelphia. However, Philadelphia won the next 2 games, one in Edmonton and one back in Philadelphia by 1 goal, to force a deciding game 7. Edmonton won game 7 to earn its third Stanley Cup in four seasons.

During the Stanley Cup presentation, Oilers captain Wayne Gretzky would give the Cup to Steve Smith, who one year earlier scored on his own net that led to their downfall against the Calgary Flames, their in-province rivals, in the Smythe Division Final. Ron Hextall received the Conn Smythe Trophy for his efforts.

Many people consider this to be one of the greatest Stanley Cup Finals of all time.

Game One (May 17, 1987)Edit

With the game tied at 1–1 after 40 minutes of play, the Oilers won thanks to third-period goals by Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey and Jari Kurri. Gretzky registered a goal and an assist in the onslaught as part of a 4–2 win. The Flyers outshot Edmonton 31–26.

Game Two (May 20, 1987)Edit

This time, the Flyers led 2–1 after two periods. Despite matching the Oilers line for line and speed for speed, Edmonton burned Philly with a third-period goal, then on the game-winner by Kurri, who took advantage of some disorganized defensive play by the Flyers in overtime to score the game-winning goal with a wide-open chance in a 3–2 overtime victory.

Game Three (May 22, 1987)Edit

Looking to take a commanding 3–0 series lead, Edmonton came out firing, taking a 2–0 lead after one period on goals by Mark Messier & Coffey, then stretching it to 3–0 on Anderson's fluke breakaway goal 1:49 into the second.

With their backs against the wall, the Flyers began a comeback on second-period goals by Murray Craven and Peter Zezel. Early in the third, tallies 17 seconds apart by Scott Mellanby & Brad McCrimmon tied the game, then put the Flyers ahead 4–3. For the remainder of the period, the Flyers gamely kept the Oilers' potent offense at bay until Brian Propp's empty-net goal sealed a 5–3 win.

Until this point, no team had ever rebounded from a 3–0 deficit to win a game in the Finals, and the Flyers won their first-ever playoff game after yielding a game's first three goals.

Game Four (May 24, 1987)Edit

The momentum from game three did not carry over for Philadelphia. Gretzky notched three assists as the Oilers won, 4–1, and took a three games to one series lead. In a relatively sedate affair, the most shocking event came when Flyers goaltender Ron Hextall viciously chopped his stick across the back of the legs of Edmonton's Kent Nilsson in the third period when trailing 4–1. Hextall was apparently incensed that Anderson and other Oilers had cruised through the goal crease untouched and unpenalized during the game & took out his frustration on the last Oiler he happened to see skate by. Hextall's actions caused Nilsson no injury, but Hextall would be suspended for the first 8 games of the 1987–88 season.

Game Five (May 26, 1987)Edit

Edmonton's newspapers had published plans for a future victory parade that day, and the Oilers tried to make those plans come to fruition when they beat Hextall for two quick first-period goals.

Although the Flyers got one back and trailed 2–1 after one period, Hextall let Edmonton's third goal of the game, a tip-in by Marty McSorley with nearly two minutes gone in the second slip between his arm and body; time was growing short.

Facing the end of their season, the Flyers clawed back and tied the game 3–3 on goals by Doug Crossman & Pelle Eklund. With almost six minutes played in the third, Propp fed Rick Tocchet in the slot for the go-ahead score. Hextall and the Flyers' defense clamped down on the Oilers the rest of the way and the series came back to Philadelphia.

Game Six (May 28, 1987)Edit

With a chance to close out the series without the pressure of home ice, Edmonton took a 2–0 lead against a hesitant Flyers club on a disputed goal by Kevin Lowe and a stuffer by checking winger Kevin McClelland. The Oilers took control of the game in all aspects, outshooting Philly 15–5 in the opening 20 minutes. The Flyers had little chance until Lindsay Carson managed to thread a puck through Grant Fuhr's pads a little more than 7 minutes into the second period. The Oilers kept the pressure on, and carried play into the third period. However, Anderson's careless high-sticking penalty with eight minutes left in regulation led to Propp's electric game-tying goal, snapping a shot high into the left corner of the net.

84 seconds later, little-used Flyer defenceman J.J. Daigneault stepped up to a dying puck inside the Oilers' blue line & cranked the puck just inside the right post to give the Flyers a 3–2 advantage. Daigneault's goal stirred the Spectrum crowd to a frenzy providing what has been called the loudest moment in that arena's history and the game is often nicknamed "The Night the Spectrum Shook". The only threat to that lead came with ten seconds left when Mark Messier picked off Hextall's attempted clear, broke in & took one shot into Hextall's pads and a second over the top of the net. Mark Howe knocked down a last-ditch Oiler effort at the buzzer, and the Finals headed to a game 7 for the first time since 1971.

Game 7 (May 31, 1987)Edit

Two unusual occurrences marked the opening of the game: the Flyers were awarded a 2 man advantage one minute into the contest & scored the first goal of the game for the first time in the Finals. Craven banked a shot off Fuhr's skate only 1:41 into the game for a 1–0 Philadelphia lead. The Flyers failed to score on the back half of the 5-on-3 & the Oilers came back 6 minutes later when Messier finished off a 3-on-1 with a backhander to tie the game. Kurri delivered a huge blow to Flyers victory hopes when he beat Hextall with quick wrist shot off a Gretzky pass at 14:59 into the second period, giving the Oilers a one-goal cushion. Edmonton poured it on late, outshooting the Flyers 13–6 in the middle 20 minutes and 12–2 in the third, finally getting an insurance goal on Anderson's 30-footer up the middle with 2:24 to play.

Philadelphia's Ron Hextall (who had 40 saves in game 7) was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs MVP despite Edmonton's victory. His feat was the fourth time a Conn Smythe winner came from a losing team. He was preceded by Roger Crozier, goaltender with the Detroit Red Wings in 1966, St. Louis Blues goalie Glenn Hall in 1968 & Flyers right wing Reggie Leach in 1976. Jean-Sebastien Giguere (also a goalie) would become the 2003 playoff MVP with the Finals-losing Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.


Despite CTV pulling the plug on their 2 year-long venture with the NHL, Carling O'Keefe retained their rights (there were 2 years remaining on the contract with or without CTV).

Things became problematic when the 1987 Stanley Cup Playoffs opened with Carling O'Keefe still without a network of some sort. The problems arguably peaked when the Montreal–Quebec playoff series opened without any telecasts originating from Quebec City. This soon lead to them syndicating 1986–87 and 1987–88 playoff telecasts on a chain of channels that would one day become the Global Television Network.

The deal between Carling O'Keefe and the Canwest/Global consortium (with a few CBC and CTV affiliates sprinkled in for good measure) came just in time for Game 6 of the Montreal-Quebec series (April 30th).

It must be stressed that Global technically didn't become a national network until 1997. During the 1980s, Global consisted of a single station in Toronto with some rebroadcast transmitters through Ontario. As previously mentioned, the NHL broadcasts were part of a syndicated package that Carling O'Keefe distributed. Also as previously mentioned, the Global Television Network broadcasts were aired under the names "Stanley Cup '87" and "Stanley Cup '88" before a merger between Carling O'Keefe and Molson (the presenters of "Hockey Night in Canada" on CBC as previously mentioned) put an end to the competition.

In 1987, coverage also included all 5 games of the Campbell Conference Final between Edmonton Oilers & Detroit Red Wings and Games 3–5 of the Finals between the Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers.

Unlike the split CTV/CBC coverage of 1984–85 & 1985–86, the Canwest-Global telecasts were network exclusive except for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals if they were necessary. When CBC and Global televised Game 7 of the 1987 Stanley Cup Finals, they used separate production facilities and separate on-air talent.

Stanley Cup EngravingEdit







  • #8 Wayne Van Dorp played 3 regular season games, and 3 games in the Conference Finals, but it was not enough to qualify for his name being engraved on the Stanley Cup.
  • #6 Jeff Beukeboom played 44 regular games, but he did not dress in the playoffs. Beukeboom played more than 1/2 regular season games, so his name was included on the Stanley Cup.
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