Updated: Jun 18, 2019
The 05-06 NHL season directly followed a lengthy lockout, and ushered in various rule changes, such as the (universally loved and praised) shootout. Some things, however, had not changed, as the Detroit Red Wings were a dominant force throughout the regular season and appeared to be well-positioned going into the playoffs, earning the number one seed in the Western Conference. The Edmonton Oilers were still a middling franchise, as long gone were the days of the Gretzky, Messier, and the rest of their dynastic players. They scraped by all season, with tumultuous goaltending that caused them to acquire Dwayne Roloson at the deadline. With him, they earned the eighth seed, just enough to get by the Vancouver Canucks and qualify for the playoffs. With these facts in mind, it was generally believed that Edmonton was in for more than they bargained for, facing a Wings team that scored 305 goals during the season, and had plenty of previous playoff success. The series was expected to be quick, severe, and painless, so of course, the Oilers went on to pull off the upset in six games. Detroit took game one in double OT, but Edmonton took three of the next four to set up a clincher in game six at home.
Through the first five games of the series, Henrik Zetterberg had scored at a goal-per-game pace, and he continued to roll to open up game six in Alberta. Robert Lang extended Detroit's lead late into the second frame (off Steve Yzerman's last career assist), and it seemed like a fair bet that there would be a game seven back in Motor City. The Oilers were not particular fans of that idea, and proceeded to go full cinderella-mode in the third period. It started with Fernando Pisani (who would go on to be the team's leading goal scorer in the playoffs), who scored first on the powerplay three minutes in, and again on a counterattack rush four minutes later to level the game. With Rexall Place suddenly rocking, the momentum of the game had completely switched to being in favor of the home team. But in the blink of an eye, the desperate visitors were able to take it right back, when following a productive powerplay, Johan Franzen banged home a rebound off the post that came off a Maltby clapper. With ten minutes to go, Detroit once again had the lead.
(Other half of article to come)