The NY Islanders "Drive for Five" came to an end 40 years ago vs. the Edmonton Oilers

1984 Stanley Cup Playoffs - New York Islanders v Edmonton Oilers
1984 Stanley Cup Playoffs - New York Islanders v Edmonton Oilers / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

All good things come to an end and so do legendary things as well.

40 years ago, on May 19, 1984, the New York Islanders lost 5-2 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final to Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers, ending their "Drive for Five" and their dynasty after an NHL record 19 straight playoff series wins, a record that still stands and is unlikely to ever be broken.

The series was a rematch of the 1983 Stanley Cup Final where the seasoned Isles swept the high-powered Oilers in four straight games. Despite the 119 point Oilers having the better record, the 104-point Islanders were granted home-ice advantage in the series due the Wales Conference having more points in head-to-head play against the Campbell Conference.

The NHL had realigned the conferences in 1982, implementing a more East vs West structure aimed at reducing travel. A 2-3-2 format was enacted for the Stanley Cup Final for the same reason, but had no impact the 1982 or 1983 as the Islanders swept both the Vancouver Canucks and Oilers.

Game 1 was a role reversal from the previous season when Billy Smith had shut Edmonton on the road in one of the great playoff goaltending performances of all time. This time, it was Grant Fuhr pitching a shutout for Edmonton in a 1-0 win at the Nassau Coliseum. The Isles routed Edmonton 6-1 in Game 2 but would need at least one win in Edmonton to send the series back to Long Island.

On home ice, the juggernaut Oilers were flying and unstoppable. After scoring just two goals in two games at the Coliseum, they showcased their skill and how they had scored 446 goals during the regular season. Their top five point scorers were all 23 or younger when the season started, and all now reside in the Hockey Hall of Fame. They were led, of course, by Gretzky, who tallied an incredible 205 points that season. He was followed by Paul Coffey (126), Jari Kurri (113), Mark Messier (101) and Glenn Andersen (99).

With the champagne on ice in Game 5 at the Northlands Coliseum, the Oilers raced out to a 4-0 lead after two periods, but another future Hall-of-Famer, Pat LaFontaine, scored two goals in 25 seconds in the opening minute of the third period to provide a glimmer of hope. However, that was as close as the Islanders would get as Edmonton shut them down for the rest of the period. If the playoff format was different and Game 5 was on Long Island, maybe the Isles would have had a chance to slow down the Oilers' momentum, but the new format didn't give them that chance.

The Islanders dynasty came to end and gave birth to the new dynasty as Edmonton went on to win four Stanley Cups over the next five seasons, with only Patrick Roy and the Montreal Canadiens winning the championship in between two separate back-to-backs.. They won the title again in 1990, this time without Gretzky after he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings.