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Oilers to Play Final Game in Rexall Place Tonight

Team to Debut New Arena Next Season

NHL

EDMONTON-It’s been 10 years since the Edmonton Oilers last played a playoff game. Their last home playoff game was Game 6 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. No one at the time imagined it would be the last ever playoff game at Rexall Place, but it will be.

The Oilers will play in their last ever NHL game at Rexall Place tonight against the Vancouver Canucks as they will debut a new stadium next season.

A place that saw so much glory and winning in the mid to late 1980s has seen the total opposite in the last decade.

That  loss in the Stanley Cup Final to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 was the last time Edmonton fans saw playoff hockey. Since then, they’ve held the first overall pick more times (4) than they have had winning seasons (2).

The team, however, will look to close out their old barn on a high note, especially after what happened in their last home game.

Playing against their bitter rival, the Calgary Flames, the Oilers were throttled 5-0 this past Saturday. After the game, Edmonton coach Todd McLellan called the performance “freaking embarrassing.” It was the third time the Oilers had been shutout at home in the last three games.

Edmonton may not be able to salvage its season, but they can give their fans one more chance to celebrate in a place that saw plenty of celebration three decades ago.

The Oilers became a powerhouse during the 1980s. Led by Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jarri Kurri, Paul Coffey, and Grant Fuhr, Edmonton reached the Stanley Cup Final six times between 1980 and 1989. They would win the Cup four time during that span.

All four of those Cups won in the 80s were won in Rexall Place. The Oilers would win their fifth, and most recent, Cup in 1990, but this one was won in Boston as they swept the Boston Bruins that year.

Not only did Rexall Place see a lot of winning, it also saw plenty of memorable moments.

Gretzky reached the 50-goal plateau in the fastest amount of time during the 1981-82 season, needing only 39 games to get there. His five-goal performance on December 30, 1981 at Rexall Place helped him set the record.

The “Great One” would also set another record at Rexall eight years later, but this time as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

On October 15, 1989, Gretzky would become the NHL’s all-time leading scorer when he scored a goal late in the third period to tie the game and break the tie with his boyhood idol, Gordie Howe, to give him 1,851 points at the time.

Rexall Place also saw probably the most infamous own goal in NHL history.

In 1986, the Oilers met the Flames in the second round of the playoffs. In Game 7 of that series, then-rookie defenseman Steve Smith  inadvertently passed the puck off of Fuhr’s skate and into the net to give Calgary a 3-2 lead early in the third period. That goal would stand up as the game-winner.

Even though there won’t be much, if anything, on the line in tonight’s game against the Canucks, the Oilers will surely look to invoke the spirit of those teams from the 80s and give their fans and old rink one more good lasting memory.

Photo Credit: Mack Male/via flickr.com

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