The NHL grew to 24 teams with two new franchises, the Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning, which meant there were now six teams in each of the league's four divisions.
The game's two greatest stars, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, both staged remarkable comebacks during the season. After missing 39 games with a back injury, Gretzky accumulated 64 points in the last 45 games of the season. Lemieux missed 24 games undergoing treatment for Hodgkin's disease, a type of cancer, yet he still managed to lead the league in scoring and he drove the Penguins to the NHL's best regular-season record.
The Penguins had 119 points to 109 for the Boston Bruins, who led the Adams Division by 5 points over the Quebec Nordiques and 7 points over the Montreal Canadiens. The Chicago Blackhawks took the top spot in the Norris Division with 106 points, 3 ahead of the Detroit Red Wings, and the Vancouver Canucks led the Smythe Division with 101 points.
The third-place Toronto Maple Leafs beat Detroit and St. Louis to win the Norris Division playoffs but fell in the conference final to Gretzky's Los Angeles Kings, who had knocked off the Calgary Flames and Canucks to get there.
Another third-place team, the Canadiens, won the Wales Conference playoffs in remarkable fashion. After losing the opening game of their first-round series to the Quebec Nordiques in overtime, goalie Patrick Roy promised his teammates that he wouldn't give up another overtime goal in the playoffs. The Canadiens won 12 of their next 14 games, seven of them in overtime, as they eliminated the Nordiques, Buffalo Sabres, and New York Islanders enroute to the Stanley Cup finals.
They continued to thrive in overtime against the Kings. Los Angeles won the first game in Montreal, 4-1, but the Canadiens won three overtime games in a row, including two in Los Angeles, to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. They won the fifth and deciding game easily, 4-1, for their 24th Stanley Cup championship. They set a playoff record with their 10 consecutive overtime wins.
Roy, who was in goal for all 16 playoff wins, compiled a 2.13 goals-against average and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the post-season.