Oilers: Pisani’s Epic 2006 Playoff Performance

If you’re an Edmonton Oilers fan, you’ve heard the story about Fernando Pisani’s epic performance during their run to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Pisani’s story is both equally mesmerizing and historic.

He was the hometown boy, drafted in the toils of the eighth round of the 1996 NHL Draft, and didn’t make it to the NHL until he was 26 year’s old. Most importantly, Pisani became one of the unlikeliest playoff heroes in Oilers franchise history.

If you looked up the word underdog in the dictionary, you’d likely find a picture of Pisani next to it. During Edmonton’s 2006 playoff run, Pisani would score 14 goals to not only lead the Oilers, but the entire league in playoff goals scored.

What many people might not remember is how clutch Pisani’s scoring was during that run. Pisani scored five game-winning goals that spring, equalling the Oilers franchise record set by Jari Kurri in 1986-87. In fact, since the 2004-05 lockout, only Dustin Byfuglien (Chicago, 2010) and Johan Franzen (Detroit, 2008) have scored as many game-winning goals during a playoff as Pisani.

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One of the Best Modern Day Performances

He finished the playoff year with a total of 18 points, but he’s one of just six players since the 2004-05 lockout to score 14 or more goals in a playoff year. The only two players that scored at a higher pace (goals per games played) than Pisani since that lockout are Sidney Crosby (0.63) and Daniel Alfredsson (0.70). It’s some pretty elite company when you think of it.

The craziest thing in all of this might be that Pisani never scored more than 18 goals and 37 points in the regular season, while Crosby had 33 goals and 103 points in 2008-09 and Daniel Alfredsson had 29 goals and 87 points in 2006-07. Pisani came out of nowhere and put together something very special that embodied that blue-collared Albertan-spirit.

YEAR PLAYER TEAM GP GOALS G/GP
2009 Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins 24 15 0.63
2007 Daniel Alfredsson Ottawa Senators 20 14 0.70
2006 Fernando Pisani Edmonton Oilers 24 14 0.58
2009 Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins 24 14 0.58
2016 Joe Pavelski San Jose Sharks 24 14 0.58
2014 Marian Gaborik Los Angeles Kings 26 14 0.54

Pisani was a well-balanced scorer in the spring of 2006 with only three of his goals coming on the power play (PP) and one on the penalty kill (PK). The rest of them (10) came 5-on-5 if you can believe it. Compared to that same list only Gaborik (11), Crosby (10) and another in Tyler Johnson (Tampa Bay, 2015, 10 goals) had the same or more 5-on-5 goals than Pisani.

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One of the Best in Oilers History

Pisani’s torrid pace is also naturally one of the best in Oilers franchise history for a single playoff. Only Jari Kurri, Wayne Gretzky, Craig Simpson, Mark Messier and Glenn Anderson have scored 14 or more goals in a playoff. Pisani is just the sixth player in franchise history to hit that mark. Sure his goals per games played might be lower, but we haven’t adjusted for era, in which case you might be looking at one of the best playoff scorers in Edmonton’s illustrious history.

OILERS FRANCHISE BEST SINGLE-SEASON PLAYOFF GOALS

YEAR PLAYER GP GOALS G/GP
1985 Jari Kurri 18 19 1.06
1985 Wayne Gretzky 18 17 0.95
1990 Craig Simpson 22 16 0.73
1983 Mark Messier 15 15 1.00
1987 Jari Kurri 21 15 0.71
1984 Jari Kurri 19 14 0.74
1988 Jari Kurri 19 14 0.74
1987 Glenn Anderson 21 14 0.67
2006 Fernando Pisani 24 14 0.58

When the Oilers needed a big goal, they looked towards Pisani and his linemates Mike Peca and Raffi Torres. In Game 2 of the Western Quarter-Finals against Detroit, Pisani scored the tying goal that started the comeback. In a game where if Detroit won, Edmonton would fall behind 2-0 in the series, the hometown boy came through. Then again in Game 6, Pisani would score back-to-back goals early in the third as the Oilers rallied back to win the game and knock off the President’s Trophy winners.

With the series tied heading into Game 5 of the Semi-Finals against San Jose, Pisani would score two goals. One of them was the game-winner that put the Oilers in the driver’s seat, and a 3-2 series lead on the Sharks.

BREAKING DOWN PISANI’S CLUTCH PLAYOFF SCORING

ROUND AGAINST GP GOALS POINTS
Quarter-Finals Detroit Red Wings 18 5 6
Semi-Finals San Jose Sharks 18 2 2
Conference Finals Anaheim Ducks 5 2 4
Stanley Cup Final Carolina Hurricanes 7 5 6

He’d also score the game-winner in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against Anaheim. The goal gave Edmonton a 3-0 stranglehold on the series. In the Stanley Cup Final against Carolina, Pisani would score in all but three games, two of them losses. He led all players in the finals with five goals, including the biggest of the playoffs, the Game 5 overtime winner.

Edmonton might’ve ultimately fell short of winning their sixth Stanley Cup in franchise history, but it wasn’t without its fair share of heroics and captivating moments from unlikely sources like Pisani.