EDMONTON, Canada — The Philadelphia Flyers are fast using up their nine lives. As they did so dramatically in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals last Friday night, the Flyers came back to beat the Edmonton Oilers, 4-3, Tuesday night in a game they had to win to stay alive in the series.
The Oilers lead the series, 3-2. Game 6 is Thursday night at Philadelphia.
The Oilers seemed to lack any zip Tuesday night, despite the urging from a sellout crowd of 17,502 in the Northlands Coliseum.
Instead, it was the Flyers who played with intensity and confidence, with the line of Brian Propp, Pelle Eklund and Rick Tocchet on the ice for every Philadelphia goal. Propp ended the night with four assists, Tocchet had two goals and an assist and Eklund had two assists.
The city of Edmonton had set aside Thursday for a Stanley Cup victory celebration. The Flyers apparently got word of that and let it serve as inspiration.
"We heard they were going to have a parade, and we used it to our advantage," Tocchet said. "We just said, 'Let's give it our best shot.' "
"I didn't speak about it," Flyer Coach Mike Keenan said. "I don't need any sideshows to motivate myself and the team. I'm sure the players didn't verbalize, but they felt it and we're happy with the result."
Edmonton captain Wayne Gretzky admitted the parade talk could have motivated Philadelphia, but said his team was not overconfident.
"Obviously, it's something that upsets them, gets them looking more mad at us," Gretzky said. "But it really has nothing to do with our hockey club. Whatever the city says or thinks has nothing to do with our hockey club. What goes on outside the room we have no control over."
After the second period ended with the score tied, 3-3, the winning goal was set up by Eklund winning a faceoff in the Oiler zone. Propp picked up the puck and passed to Tocchet, who scored 5:26 into the third.
The Flyers then played a strong defensive game to protect their lead.
The Oilers had taken command early, scoring first on a screened shot from Jari Kurri at 2:58 in the first period.
Marty McSorely then scored the first of his two goals, this one coming after Gretzky's slap shot had been blocked by Flyer goalie Ron Hextall. McSorely was barreling into Hextall, and when the puck slid out from under the goaltender, McSorely tipped it in to give Edmonton a 2-0 lead.
McSorely skidded into the boards after the goal, and was greeted by flyer defenseman Brad McCrimmon, who delivered a sharp kick to McSorely's ribs.
The Flyers' first goal was the work of Eklund. The center brought the puck into the zone and passed to Propp. Tocchet, in front of the net, tipped the puck in.
Philadelphia was the more aggressive team in the second period, with extended forechecking and substantially longer possession of the puck.
However, Edmonton scored first, at 1:32. Charlie Huddy's shot was tipped in by McSorely to give the Oilers a 3-1 lead.
Propp set up the next two Flyer goals. On the first, he brought the puck into the Oiler zone and centered a pass to Doug Crossman. Crossman put the puck in the only spot Oiler goaltender Grant Fuhr wasn't protecting--high in the net.
On the third Flyer goal, a power play goal, Propp took a hard shot that rebounded to Eklund. Eklund's first shot at close range rebounded back to him and he took another. That one beat Fuhr to tie it at 3-3, and set up the game-winner by Tocchet 5:26 into the third period.