Going into the season, Wayne Gretzky had won the Hart Trophy eight years in a row and the Ross Trophy seven years in a row. Both streaks were ended by Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux, who scored 168 points to lead the league, thereby winning the Ross Trophy. He also won the NHL's most valuable player award, the Hart Trophy, although his Penguins failed to make the playoffs. They finished sixth in the hard-fought Patrick Division, but were only 7 points behind the first-place New York Islanders.
Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers were bumped from first place in the Smythe Division by the Calgary Flames, who led the league with 105 points. Right behind the Flames were the Montreal Canadiens, whose 103 points led the Adams Division. The Detroit Red Wings easily finished atop the Norris Division, 17 points ahead of the St. Louis Blues.
The playoffs brought upsets, as they often do. The Boston Bruins beat the Canadiens in a five-game Adams Division final; it was the first time they'd won a playoff series over Montreal since 1945. The New Jersey Devils, who finished fourth in the Patrick Division to make the playoffs for the first time in 10 years, eliminated the Islanders and the second-place Washington Capitals to win the division title and then extended the Bruins to seven games in the conference championship series.
The Oilers swept the Flames in the Smythe Division finals and beat Detroit in five games in the Campbell Conference finals. They entered the Stanley Cup finals on a roll, having won 12 of 14 playoff games, and they kept right on going against Boston.
Edmonton won in a four-game sweep that actually took five games. Game 4 was tied 3-3 in the third period when the power failed at Boston Garden. The game was eventually suspended and replayed two days later, when the Oilers took an easy 6-3 win for their fourth Stanley Cup championship in five years.
Gretzky, having missed out on the regular-season trophies he'd owned for so long, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. He scored 43 points in Edmonton's 19 post-season games.