For hockey players, the stuff of dreams is the Stanley Cup final. Friday night, the Calgary Flames' dreams will become reality.
The Flames played near-perfect defense Wednesday night to eliminate the St. Louis Blues, 2-1, in the seventh game of the Campbell Conference final series.
"This is a dream come true," 12-year veteran Lanny McDonald said. "All you ever ask is to be given one shot (at the Cup). Now we have our chance, we have to make good at it.
"I dreamed of this for years. Ever since I started listening to hockey with my dad."
The Flames will be making their first appearance in the final when they play host to the Montreal Canadiens at Calgary Friday night. It will be the first all-Canadian final in 19 years.
The Blues were on the other side of the dream.
"For a lot of guys here it was a dream and the dream just died," center Bernie Federko said. "It's disheartening. But they just outplayed us.
"We tried to get two guys in, but it was impossible. We had trouble just getting to center to dump the puck in."
There were no more miracle finishes for the Blues, who in Game 6 overcame a 5-2 third-period deficit to win in overtime. The Blues couldn't mount a sustained offense against the Flames. Calgary goalie Mike Vernon turned away 16 of their 17 shots.
St. Louis' only goal, by Eddy Beers, came with 1:58 left on a power play. The Blues had five power-play chances but managed only five shots on goal during their four fruitless opportunities.
Goals by Al MacInnis and Colin Patterson stood up for Calgary.
MacInnis opened the scoring at 9:22 of the opening period, and Patterson made it 2-0 just 1:42 into the second period.
The Blues had some scoring chances early in the final period when Calgary goaltender Mike Vernon wandered far out of his net, but the Flame defense was able to keep the puck from getting close.
The Flames earned their first final berth in the franchise's 13-year history by sweeping the Winnipeg Jets, upsetting the two-time defending champion Edmonton Oilers and outlasting the Blues.
The Canadiens and Toronto met in the last all-Canadian final in 1967 with the Maple Leafs winning the Cup in six games.