Gretzky, Coffey Set Up Kurri’s Overtime Goal as Oilers Rally to Win
It’s starting to get very scary for the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s starting to appear, after only two games in the Stanley Cup finals, that this Edmonton Oiler team may just be the all-everything team of destiny that may steamroll to its third championship.
It’s getting scary for the Flyers, because after battling the Oilers through three periods and part of an overtime Wednesday night, while playing disciplined and canny hockey, the Oilers calmly matched them, and beat them.
Edmonton’s 3-2 overtime win, before a sellout crowd of 17,502 in the Northlands Coliseum, gave the Oilers a 2-0 edge in this best-of-seven series.
It also leaves the Flyers wondering what it will take to prevail in the face of that offense, and that goaltending.
The Flyers fought with everything, and everyone, and watched a 2-1 third-period lead collapse when Glenn Anderson plowed through the Philadelphia zone to score the tying goal at 11:40.
Edmonton controlled the puck more in the overtime period, but it appeared that both teams were merely going to hit the posts.
Wayne Gretzky set up the winning goal. Gretzky took the puck on the right side and slid a centering pass to Paul Coffey in the slot. Coffey held the puck a beat longer to draw out Philadelphia goaltender Ron Hextall.
Coffey sent the puck to Jari Kurri on the left side, and Kurri scored at 6:50 into overtime.
It was Kurri’s 12th goal of the playoffs, but he made it sound as if he was a bystander on the play. “I was standing by the net and waiting and waiting,” he said. “Paul made a nice pass and I had a half-open net to shoot into.”
Oiler Coach Glen Sather said: “It was a great hockey game, I thought it was a hell of a hockey game. Both teams were playing with a lot of determination and desire.”
The Flyers dominated the first two periods, barely. But a lapse early in the third period allowed the Oilers back in.
“It’s not a heartbreaker,” Philadelphia Coach Mike Keenan said. “We played a pretty fair hockey game, except for 15 minutes in the third period.”
In fact, the Flyers did just what they set out to do, which is why it’s looking so dim for them.
The game plans for both teams had been discussed in the media since Sunday, even if the teams would not reveal much themselves.
Philadelphia announced it would not allow Edmonton the same operating room as it had in Game 1. There was little doubt that the Flyers would bump the Oilers, slowing them down in their skating lanes. Keenan’s phrase for it is “abrasive hockey.”
The Flyers did scour the Oilers in the neutral zone. The Philadelphia forwards contributed by forechecking mightily. That bumping eventually graduated to shoving, pushing and more.
“We did some good things, we slowed the tempo up a little bit,” Flyer defenseman Brad Marsh said. “But we had a lot of good scoring chances, and perhaps we deserved another couple of goals.”
If not for excellent goaltending from Edmonton’s Grant Fuhr, who had 32 saves, and Hextall, who had 31 saves, the game “could have easily been 5-4, or more,” Gretzky said.
The scoreless first period was tame in comparison to the wide-open second.
There were moments, such as when Flyer defenseman Brad McCrimmon’s speared Gretzky while he sat on the Oiler bench, that set the stage for recriminations.
The first period ended with a sloppy penalty against Philadelphia for too many men on the ice at 19:52, and a holding penalty to McCrimmon at 20:00. Thus, the Oilers opened the second period with a two-man advantage.
Marsh took credit for being the extra man on the ice. “That hurt us, obviously,” he said.
Gretzky struck fast on the power play in the second period, converting a pass from Kurri to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead.
Although the Flyers outshot the Oilers, 27-16, in the first two periods, they didn’t get their first shot on goal until 8:44 of the second.
The Flyers tied it on an odd goal from Derrick Smith. Flyer Scott Mellanby took a shot from the front of the net, and Fuhr made the save. Smith picked up the rebound, and, moving behind the net, slid the puck behind Fuhr. The puck hit Fuhr’s right skate and bounced in.
Emotions continued to heat up. Flyer defenseman Doug Crossman took advantage of officials who were looking elsewhere and pounded Dave Hunter in the head and smacked him into the boards. While the first game was quiet in terms of penalties, Wednesday night’s was not. The Flyers were assessed nine and the Oilers eight.
The Flyers also took advantage of a fallen Fuhr and scored on Brian Propp’s shot at 16:23.
“I just kicked it back out to Propp’s stick,” Fuhr said.
The period ended with a pileup in front of the Flyer net. Oiler winger Kelly Buchberger thought he had a goal but his shot hit the post.
Stanley Cup Notes The Flyers had the statistical chance to win the game. They are 45-2-4 this season when they have held the lead going into the third period. . . . Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey each had two assists. . . . The Oilers have won their last five overtime games. . . . Each team had 34 shots on goal. . . . The series will resume Friday night at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. The fourth game will be Sunday night.