Oilers’ Spookiest Halloween Games

It’s a very happy Halloween in Oil Country this year, where hockey fans are being treated to one of the best starts in Edmonton Oilers franchise history and hoping they’re not being tricked with another great regular season that ends in playoff disappointment.

The Oilers are off this Oct. 31, but there are 11 occasions that Edmonton has played on Halloween, and a number of those games have been befitting of Allhallows Eve.

Nightmare for the Nordiques

It’s been exactly forty years since the Quebec Nordiques dropped by Northlands Coliseum on Oct. 31, 1981, and those unfortunate souls that are probably still haunted by the events of that unholy night.

Wayne Gretzky potted four goals for Edmonton, while his teammates Glenn Anderson, Matti Hagman, and Jari Kurri all scored twice as the Oilers carved up the Nordiques 11-4. Edmonton’s assist leader was Risto Siltanen, who had four Halloween apples. The 11 goals were the most by one team in an NHL game on Halloween, and that record still exists, like a ghost of hockey’s high-scoring past.

Glenn Anderson of the Edmonton Oilers
Glenn Anderson of the Edmonton Oilers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Through 40 minutes, the Oilers led 5-1, which by early ‘80s standards was not an unusual score to see after two periods. But the third act was genuinely chilling, even by Northlands ice standards.

Not unlike the hapless victim who answers a foreboding knock on their door, Quebec’s Michal Plasse was doomed the moment he relieved Dan Bouchard between the pipes to start the third period. Edmonton terrorized the veteran goalie, firing 17 shots and burying six of them in the final frame. Things got particularly gruesome towards the end, as Edmonton scored four times between 13:50 and 17:29 of the third. However, Edmonton’s Ron Low wasn’t entirely spared in the massacre, giving up three goals in the third period.

Dancing with the Devils

There is no more appropriate opponent to play on October 31 than the team named after the lord of the underworld, and the Oilers have faced the New Jersey Devils twice on Halloween.

The first came in East Rutherford in 1987, when the host Devils led for more than 55 minutes of the game en route to a 6-5 victory. That night, there was malice in the air; Oilers enforcer Marty McSorely and New Jersey’s Jim Korn fought towards the end of the first period, served their time in the box, then dropped the gloves again early in the second period. They probably would have kept at it if not for Korn being tossed with a game misconduct.

Marty McSorley Edmonton Oilers
Marty McSorley of the Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

It was the third straight loss for the defending Stanley Cup champion Oilers, keeping Edmonton stuck on six wins early in the 1987-88 season. Perhaps this was a case of Gretzky still paying for his sins of a few years earlier when he called the Devils a “Mickey Mouse organization” and said they “were ruining the whole league.”

The Halloween rematch came eight years later, at Edmonton Colosseum, where the Oilers, with a lineup that included none other than Miroslav Satan, posted a 2-1 victory over New Jersey. Jason Arnott scored the winning goal for the Oilers early in the third period. Still, the shining star amid the pale moonlight was Edmonton’s masked man Bill Ranford, who was almost as impervious as Jason Voorhees, stopping 39 of 40 New Jersey shots.

Eerily, this was the third straight loss for the Devils, who, to that point of the season, had six wins and were the reigning Cup champs – all like the Oilers in 1987.  And one more spooky twist: the Devils would not win the Cup again until 2000, with their championship-winning goal coming off the stick of one Mr. Jason Arnott.

Fright Night Meets the Battle of Alberta

No list of Oilers games would be complete without an appearance from the Calgary Flames. Some of the rivals’ greatest triumphs are most haunting for the other, from Steve Smith’s own goal in 1986 to Esa Tikkanen’s overtime winner in 1991.

Related Link: The Battle of Alberta: 30th Anniversary of the Flames & Oilers Series

The lone fright night meeting in Battle of Alberta history, at Rexall Place on October 31, 2015, saw the Oilers battle back from three separate two-goal deficits to tie the game 4-4 in the third period, only to lose on a ghastly goal with just 8.7 seconds left. Michael Frolik’s seemingly harmless shot from the side-boards somehow snuck through Cam Talbot as the Edmonton goalie tried to hug the post.

It was an ominous sign. In Edmonton’s next game, against the Philadelphia Flyers on November 3, superstar rookie Connor McDavid broke his collarbone when he crashed into the boards at full speed after getting tangled up with Flyers’ defenceman Brandon Manning. McDavid would miss the next 37 games because of the injury, effectively costing him the opportunity to win the Calder Trophy, which may end up being the only significant award missing from McDavid’s trophy case when all is said and done.

That loss to Calgary was the last time Edmonton played on Halloween. Since then, the creepiest thing the Oilers have done is unleash Hunter upon an unsuspecting public.

With the night off, the Oilers get to go trick-or-treating again this year. So if you see a 6-foot-2 minion show up on your doorstep, you just might want to ask Leon Draisaitl for his autograph.

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