The Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will square off in the Super Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sunday, and the Edmonton Oilers’ football fanatics won’t have to miss a minute of it.
That’s not always been the case for the Oilers, who have played around a dozen times on Super Bowl Sunday in their National Hockey League history, dating back to the team’s inaugural season in 1980 when Edmonton tied the Buffalo Sabres 4-4 tie on the day of Super Bowl XIV.
While that game didn’t quite make the cut, there have been no shortage of memorable Super Bowl Sunday games for the Oilers. Here are the top 5, in chronological order:
1/24/82: Oilers 7, Rockies 4
In what would be the Colorado Rockies’ final visit to Edmonton, the Oilers put a touchdown’s worth of pucks behind goalie Phil Myre, much to the delight of the sellout crowd at Northlands Coliseum on Superbowl Sunday in 1982.
Colorado led 3-2 midway through the second period before the Oilers erupted for five straight goals. Glenn Anderson had four points, including the winning goal, while Jari Kurri scored twice, and Wayne Gretzky recorded three assists for Edmonton, with Grant Fuhr stopping 25 shots in the victory. Rob Ramage was in on all the Rockies’ scoring, with two goals and a pair of assists.
Following this season, the Rockies moved to East Rutherford, becoming the New Jersey Devils (who Wayne Gretzky would infamously call a “Mickey Mouse Franchise” a couple of years later). Denver was without NHL hockey until 1995 when the Quebec Nordiques relocated to the city, becoming the Colorado Avalanche.
Meanwhile, at the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan, Joe Montana led the San Francisco 49ers to their first Super Bowl title, picking up MVP honors in a 26-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. More than a quarter-century later, the sons of Gretzky and Montana played together on the same high school football team.
1/30/83: Islanders 4, Oilers 2
It was only fitting that the reigning champion Islanders paid a visit to Edmonton on Superbowl Sunday 1983, given these two teams would meet in the Stanley Cup Final a few months later.
The veteran Isles taught the young gun Oilers a lesson on this day, jumping out in front 4-0 before the game was even half over, with goals from Bob Bourne, Stefan Persson, Duane Sutter and Bryan Trottier. Charlie Huddy and Ken Linseman scored to pull Edmonton within two goals after two periods, but the home team could get no closer. Rollie Melanson made 34 saves for New York to pick up the win.
Unfortunately for the Oilers, this game proved an omen for the championship series: That May, the Islanders swept the Oilers to win a fourth straight Stanley Cup, holding Edmonton to just six goals in four games, at the time an Oilers record for fewest goals in a playoff series. The Oilers, of course, would get their revenge in the 1984 Final, dominating New York 4-1 to win their first Stanley Cup.
Later, at the Rose Bowl n Pasadena, California, Washington defeated Miami 27-17 for the franchise’s first SuperBowl title.
1/31/93: Oilers 5, Sabres 4 (OT)
Speaking of omens, the Oilers served up a rather nasty one for the city of Buffalo on Super Bowl Sunday in 1993, by rallying from deficits of 2-0 and 4-2 before beating the host Sabres in overtime.
A hockey matinee at the Memorial Auditorium probably wasn’t top of mind in Buffalo on Jan. 31, 1993. The city was getting set to watch its beloved Bills battle the Dallas Cowboys at the Rose Bowl in Super Bowl XXVII.
The Oilers were not a good team in 1992-93 – they would miss the NHL playoffs for the first time and finish near the bottom of the league standings – and it took not one, but two, career performances to pull out the victory on this afternoon.
Kelly Buchberger potted the winning goal just 46 seconds into overtime to complete the only hat trick of of his 1,182-game career, while Geoff Smith had the only multi-goal game in his 10 NHL seasons, scoring twice in the final six minutes to force OT. Ron Tugnutt made 30 saves for Edmonton.
Like the Sabres, the Bills took an early lead, but it didn’t last; The Cowboys won 52-17, handing Buffalo its third of four consecutive Super Bowl losses. The Bills are still searching for their first title and just came the closest in 27 years to a return to the Super Bowl, losing the AFC championship to Kansas City.
2/7/16: Islanders 8, Oilers 1
Super Bowl Sundays and the Islanders just aren’t a good fit for the Oilers; this is another game that stands out for the wrong reasons, with the Isles handing Edmonton its worst loss of Connor McDavid’s NHL career.
McDavid, in fact, was the only Oiler that recorded a point, with the rookie scoring unassisted in the second period. Otherwise, it was all Isles, with New York forward Kyle Okposo notching a hat trick in the afternoon affair at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Anders Nilsson started in goal for Edmonton but was replaced by Cam Talbot after giving up three goals on 10 shots in the first 11:24 of the game. The eight goals are tied for the most the Oilers have allowed in a single game in the last 12 years.
The day wasn’t all bad news for Edmonton’s sports scene; the Denver Broncos, who were owned by late Edmonton export Pat Bowlen, beat Carolina 24-10 in Super Bowl 50 for the franchise’s third NFL championship. Bowlen, whose construction business was involved in the building of Northlands Coliseum, passed away in 2019.
2/5/17: Oilers 1, Canadiens 0 (SO)
The sole game in Oilers history to reach a shootout with a score of 0-0 came on Super Bowl Sunday 2017 at Montreal’s Bell Centre. Leon Draisaitl was the lone player from either team to score in the skills contest, beating Canadiens goalie Al Montoya to give Edmonton a win for the record books.
Montoya turned aside 32 Edmonton shots in regulation and overtime, while Talbot made 22 saves, then stopped a trio of Habs in the shootout. The game, which was the 100th of McDavid’s career, is one of just eight ever for the Oilers to be tied 0-0 at the end of regulation.
That night, the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime, scoring 31 unanswered points to rally from a 25-point deficit in the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. The MVP of that game? Tom Brady, who will lead Tampa Bay into Super Bowl LV.
The Oilers and Habs met again on Super Bowl Sunday in 2019, with Montreal winning 4-3 in overtime. That was the most recent Super Bowl Sunday game for the Oilers, who were able to watch the Super Bowl together last year, after a wild 8-3 manhandling of the Calgary Flames the night prior.
They’ll have the opportunity to do the same this weekend after playing the Flames on Hockey Night n Canada again Saturday.