This final would be a rematch from three years prior.
It would be a meeting of the regular season’s top teams, the number one seeds from the formerly-named Campbell conference and Prince of Wales conference.
Montreal, led by rookie coach Pat Burns, had lost only three games in the three playoff series leading up to the final.
Flames fans will vividly recall Mike Vernon’s glove save off Stan Smyl, in overtime of game seven, which lead to Joel Otto’s winning goal.
The series would be a defensive battle, with stellar goaltending coming from both Vernon and Montreal’s Patrick Roy. These longtime adversaries would split the first two games in Calgary, with the Flames winning game one 3-2 and Montreal taking the second game 4-2.
Moving to the hallowed Montreal Forum, Ryan Walter would score for the Canadiens at 18:08 of the second overtime, giving them a 4-3 game three win before the Flames won game four, 4-2.
The series returned to the Saddledome with the home team winning the fifth game 3-2.
Going back to the Habs’ home turf, the Flames maintained a 3-2 advantage.
In the first period, Colin Patterson capitalized on a shot that was deflected off the Canadiens’ Chris Chelios, and snapped the puck past a surprised Roy at 18:51 of the first period.
Claude Lemieux responded for Montreal, at 1:23 of the second period, when his blast from just inside the blue line handcuffed Vernon and trickled over the goal line.
The Flames co-captain, Lanny MacDonald, scored his only goal of the playoffs in the second period at 4:24. Coming out of the penalty box and into a four man rush, MacDonald took a pass from Joe Nieuwendyk to beat Roy on the glove side.
Despite each allowing a soft goal, both goaltenders played at the All-Star level into the third period.
The turning point came for Calgary in the third period, when Russ Courtnall took a boarding after he ran Vernon over behind the net.
The Montreal bench rejected this penalty, arguing that Vernon was clearly away from his crease, and was therefore a fair and open target.
On the power-play, Doug Gilmour cashed his own rebound past a confused Roy, scoring at 11:02 in the third.
Pat Burns was seen clapping his hands after the goal, a sarcastic “thanks” to referee Denis Morel for his call against Courtnall.
Rick Green would respond for Montreal at 11:53 on a screen shot that clearly showed Lemieux interfere with Vernon.
An interesting event occurs at the 15:51 mark of the period.
With the Canadiens still trailing and on the attack, the Flames’ Al MacInnis scoops the puck with his glove and stops the play in the Calgary end.
Being on the opposite side, referee Morel can’t see what occurred so no delay of game penalty is called. MacInnis carries his “trophy” to the Flames bench, during the stoppage in play, and flips it to a trainer.
With just over a minute to play in the third period, Gilmour would score on the empty net, securing the first ever Stanley Cup for the Calgary Flames.
Ironically, this moment was equally significant for Montreal. Up until this moment, the Canadiens had never lost a Cup clinching game at home in the entire history of their storied franchise.
Montreal fans gave a standing ovation for the Flames and remained in their seats to watch as the visiting team paraded the Stanley Cup around the Forum ice.
Though he didn’t score in the final game, MacInnis had five goals (two game winners) with his booming slapshot in the series.
His 31 points in the playoffs, including a 17-game point streak, would earn him the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
MacInnis became the first defenceman to lead the playoffs in scoring.
Having capped his regular season career with an even 500 career goals and 1006 points, his final goal in the NHL was to have his name forever etched on the side of the Stanley Cup.
“I scored my first goal ever in the National Hockey League in the Montreal Forum. And I scored my last goal in my final game, again, in the Montreal Forum. I was part of the on-ice lineup for that winning game and we were the only team other than the Canadiens ever to win the Stanley Cup on Forum ice. All those things added up to me thinking, ‘Boy, it’s a sign! It’s time I was outta here.’ What a great way to go!
“To come back and eventually win the Cup playing for a team close to your hometown (Hanna, Alberta), wow! It doesn’t get much better than that.”
This Stanley Cup final would also mark the last time that two Canadian teams have faced off.