CALGARY (660 NEWS) – As the Calgary Flames make a push for the Stanley Cup in 2019, we take a look back at a few of the strangest and most controversial moments from the team’s playoff past.
One of the most memorable plays happened during game seven of the Battle of Alberta in 1986.
In the third period, the score was tied 2-2 when Oilers’ defenceman Steve Smith banked an attempted pass off goaltender Grant Fuhr into his own net.
Broadcaster Peter Maher, who was calling the radio play-by-play for the Flames, said Smith’s own-goal stunned the Oilers and seemed to kill any momentum the team might have had.
“The whole building in Edmonton went silent. It gave the Flames a 3-2 lead, there was about eight or nine minutes left to go in the third period. Everyone was stunned on the Oilers side of it, the players, the fans and I think that was a good thing from a Flames standpoint.”
Flames forward Perry Berezan was credited with the series-winning goal.
It was the first and only time in five attempts the Flames have beaten the Oilers in a playoff round.
Following the win against Edmonton, the Flames advanced to the conference finals against the St. Louis Blues.
That series also went the limit.
On the day of the seventh and deciding game, Calgary was hit with a rare May snowstorm that dumped about 30 centimetres on the city.
That day, thousands of people didn’t show up for work but there were few empty seats that night in the Saddledome.
Maher said the Blues arrived in Calgary just in time.
“The Blues got here just before the storm started. They came in on Sunday and I remember snow was starting. I got a call from Dan Kelly, who was their broadcaster, that they had arrived.”
The Flames won the game 2-1 and advanced to the Stanley Cup final against Montreal.
But the team had just one day off between series and eventually lost in five games to the more-rested Canadiens.
Maher said the Flames were exhausted in the final round coming off back-to-back seven-game series.
During the offseason, the NHL adopted a new rule which requires teams to have at least three days off between the conference series and the Stanley Cup final.
Maher said the Flames played a role in the change.
“They call that the (then Flames General Manager) Cliff Fletcher rule. They made that rule after ’86, Cliff went to the league meetings that summer and proposed (the NHL) change the rule. He felt (teams) needed more time to rest between series.”
Perhaps the most controversial moment occurred during game six of the Flames’ 2004 cup run against Tampa Bay.
It’s a play that continues to haunt many Flames fans.
The infamous ‘phantom goal’ is now part of Flames’ lore and many fans claim the team was robbed of what could have been a second Stanley Cup championship, and first since 1989.
With Calgary leading the series 3-2 and the score tied 2-2, forward Martin Gelinas redirected a puck that appeared to go into the net. The play was never officially reviewed by the league, but television replays seem to suggest the puck may have barely crossed the goal line.
With the exception of broadcasters and the press gallery, most people inside were unaware of what had happened.
The play developed so quickly, most watching were not aware of how close the puck was to being in the net.
Television crews showed the replay extensively, but the play was never officially reviewed by the league.
“The coaching staff knew about it, but they didn’t want to tell the players during the intermission because the didn’t want them to lose their concentration going into the overtime period.”
Players found out after Martin St. Louis scored the winning goal for Tampa in the second overtime period.
“They only realized it after the game was over and media people were asking Gelinas and the other guys about it.”
Maher isn’t convinced the call would have been overturned at the time even if it had been reviewed.
“In fairness to the league, they didn’t have the sophisticated camera angles that they have now for the reviews, because that was the first year (NHL) had a little video or review.”
Maher, who continues to perform as an ambassador for the Flames said he is often asked about the play when he mingles with fans in the Saddledome concourse.
“It comes up just about every time I’m there.”