Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Oilers History: Dave Lumley and the magical run of 1981


When you bring up the name of Dave Lumley to most Edmonton Oilers fans, they generally think back to one of two moments. The most common being his Stanley Cup clinching empty net goal in Game 5 of the 1984 Finals. The other "memorable" moment, was his unexpected twelve game goal scoring streak during the 1981-82 campaign. That run is one many Oiler fans are either totally unaware of or one they have simply forgot over the last three decades.

After putting together a 20 goal, 58 point campaign in the Oilers inaugural season in the NHL, Lumley followed it up with a rather disappointing sixteen points, during the 1980-81 season. The former Montreal Canadiens draft pick had fallen out of favour heading into the 1981-82 season, resulting in him seeing limited action during the first month and a half of the year.

That all changed on November 21st, when the Oilers played host to the Vancouver Canucks. Lumley found himself in the starting lineup and scored the games opening goal at the 1:27 mark. He picked up a pair of assists on two Gretzky power play markers and scored his second of the night, also on the power play, courtesy of a setup from #99.

Just like that, Lumley went from the outhouse to the penthouse. His four point performance led to head coach Glen Sather giving him a shot at playing with Gretzky, both at even strength and with the man advantage. Opportunity given. Now it was up to #20, to make the most of it.

Next up for the Oilers, were the Detroit Red Wings and Lumley would, once again, open the scoring, in what turned into an 8-4 Edmonton victory. Two nights later, saw the Los Angeles Kings come to town and Gretzky have "one of those" nights, in Edmonton's 11-4 blowout win. The Great One was already working on a four goal night, when he picked up point number five, late in the third, on Lumley's fourth goal in the last three games. Not only did it extend his goal-scoring streak to three but also gave him four points on the night and nine during his impressive three game run.

Edmonton would end their four game homestand in style, pounding the Chicago Blackhawks 8-1and Lumley would make it four in a row, with a goal in the dying minutes of the third, on a setup from Gretzky and tough guy Dave Semenko. After a perfect 4-0 record on their homestand, the Oilers were about to embark on three game road trip, facing the Winnipeg Jets, Canadiens and Quebec Nordiques.

It was much of the same in Winnipeg, as Edmonton trounced the Jets 10-2 and Lumley scored again, while picking up two more assists. The Oilers five game winning streak would come to an end in Montreal, as the two sides played to a 3-3 tie thanks to rookie netminder Grant Fuhr's brilliant 35 save performance. Lumley scored early in the final frame, to put the Oil ahead but Mark Napier would tie it up midway through the third. The high flying Nordiques were next.

After starring against the Habs the night before, Edmonton decided to give Fuhr a rest and started former Nordique netminder Ron Low between the pipes. It was a move that would backfire. Quebec would edge the Oilers 9-8 in a good ol' fashion shootout but Lumley would push his streak to seven straight, scoring his ninth on the season, on a penalty shot.

A home-and-home series with the Canucks was next on the schedule, making it four games in five nights for the Oilers. That mattered little to Edmonton's newest "sniper" as he extended his streak to nine, scoring three times over the two games. Lumley would make it eleven straight with goals against the Kings and New York Islanders and setup Gretzky's late game winner, against Isles, for good measure.

Dave would make it an even dozen with yet another, four point performance, this time against the Colorado Rockies. Twelve games earlier, Lumley was sitting with one goal on the season. Fast forward three and half weeks and he suddenly had sixteen.

The streak would come to an end the very next night, December 17th, in Calgary. Edmonton scored three third period goals, in a six and half minute span, to earn the 5-4 comeback victory but for the first time since November 21st, the name Dave Lumley did not appear as one of the Edmonton Oilers goal scorers. He did setup Kevin Lowe's game winner in the final minute of play but was unable to beat Pat Riggin in the Flames goal. Falling one game short of matching Charlie Simmer's streak of thirteen games, which at the time, was the longest streak in modern day history.

In total, he scored 15 goals and added another 12 assists during the streak, nearly doubling his entire output from the previous season. In a rather strange twist of fate, after being held goal-less against the Flames, Lumley followed it up with the best performance of the bunch. He scored three times against the Minnesota North Stars on December 19th and chipped in with another three helpers, giving him his first career six point night. Of course, #99 would out do his linemate, registering a hat-trick and seven points on the night but that wasn't the first time nor the last, that Gretzky would steal the spotlight.

Dave Lumley would finish the 1981-82 campaign with 32 goals, 42 assists and 74 points in sixty-six games played. However, from that point on, Lumley would never score more than thirteen goals in any NHL season and would in fact, only find the back of the opposition net on another thirty-nine occasions, before ultimately retiring from the game on November 5th, 1986.

The streak still remains an Edmonton Oilers record to this day and like many of the standards set by Wayne Gretzky, that are littered throughout the Oilers record book, it will be one that will, ultimately, stand the test of time.


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