Mike Keenan, finally, has won a playoff series over the Edmonton Oilers. And his Chicago Blackhawks did it in record style.
The Blackhawks finished off Edmonton with four second-period goals Friday night en route to a 5-1 victory over the Oilers and a four-game sweep of the Campbell Conference final.
"I had probably a greater inner fear than anyone else because of the road that I've been down so many times against them," Keenan said, soaking wet following a champagne shower.
"They've assembled great teams here in the past, and they've been very difficult to put away. But we played better."
The series wasn't close.
The Blackhawks set a league playoff record with their 11th consecutive victory in one postseason and advanced to their first Stanley Cup final since 1973.
Keenan's road against Edmonton included Stanley Cup losses to the Oilers when he coached the Philadelphia Flyers in 1984-85 and 1986-87.
Things didn't change when he joined the Blackhawks--the Oilers beat Chicago in the 1990 Campbell Conference final.
"I'm really pleased because the older players have run up against this team on a number of occasions in the mid-'80s when they had great teams in the final four.
"Tonight, they were able to finally reach a plateau that some of them have been seeking for a number of years now."
Rob Brown had a goal and two assists for the Blackhawks.
Brian Noonan had a pair of goals, with Jeremy Roenick and Mike Hudson adding scores.
Chicago, seeking its first championship in 31 years, will take on the Wales Conference winner in the 75th Stanley Cup. Defending champion Pittsburgh leads Boston, 3-0, in that series, with Game 4 tonight.
The Blackhawks won the final three games of their Norris Division semifinal against the St. Louis Blues, then swept the Detroit Red Wings and the Oilers.
Chicago goaltender Ed Belfour broke the record for consecutive victories held by Boston's Gerry Cheevers, who led the Bruins to 10 in a row in their march to the 1970 Stanley Cup.
Edmonton Coach Ted Green said the Oilers had several players injured in the playoffs and some who had just come back from long-term injuries.
"That took away some of our momentum," he said. "At the same time, healthy or injured, we came up against a bigger, stronger competitor these last two weeks."
Kelly Buchberger broke Belfour's shutout bid 1:23 into the third.
A sellout crowd of 17,503 booed their team's inept power play and cheered when the Oilers were able to penetrate into the Chicago zone.
Edmonton finished 0 for 19 with the man advantage in the four games against Chicago after getting past the Kings and Vancouver largely on the strength of their power play.
The Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead 9:35 into the game when Rob Brown converted the rebound of Steve Smith's shot.
The Oilers then fell apart in the second period under the weight of penalties.
Bernie Nicholls got a five-minute major at 3:44 for bloodying Brian Marchment's mouth with an elbow and Norm MacIver made it a two-man disadvantage when he cross-checked Chris Chelios in the head.
Chicago capitalized quickly on the two-man edge when Roenick rocketed a slap shot from the left circle that caught the far post at 4:59.
Noonan made it 3-0 when he tipped in Brown's pass at 7:35 and Mike Hudson's diving deflection of Igor Kravchuk's pass at 8:46, two seconds after Nicholls' penalty expired, gave Chicago a four-goal lead.