The New York Islanders have, momentarily at least, checked the New Jersey Devils' bid to become the team of destiny in this season's Stanley Cup.
The Islanders became the first team in playoff history to score a short-handed goal in overtime, and the fluke score enabled them to beat the Devils, 5-4, Sunday night at East Rutherford, N.J., to tie their hard-fought series at two games apiece.
Brent Sutter, coming in on a two-on-one break while trying to kill the third overtime penalty for the Islanders, received credit for the goal at 15:07, but actually, it was knocked in by New Jersey defenseman Tom Kurvers.
Kurvers, trying desperately to prevent a score, made a sweeping motion with his stick. He knocked the puck off Sutter's stick all right, but the puck sailed past startled goalie Sean Burke and into the net.
The Devils, turning in their fourth strong game in a row, built a 3-0 lead, lost it in the third period and actually fell behind, 4-3.
With time running out in regulation, the Devils pulled Burke, and John MacLean knocked in a rebound with just 12 seconds left in regulation to force the overtime.
Burke, who stopped 31 shots in shutting out the Islanders Saturday night, had extended his scoreless string to 114 minutes until his teammates let down in the final period. Then, when the Devils went into a defensive shell with the 3-0 lead, the tournament-tested Islanders fought back to tie.
A goal by Pat La Fontaine with just 1:30 left in regulations climaxed a four-goal flurry in 20 minutes with a goal on a perfect pass from Mikko Makela to give the Islanders the only lead they had until they won the game.
Late in the second period, Alan Kerr scored for the Islanders.
During their three power-play chances in overtime the Devils had six shots, but goalie Kelly Hrudey stopped them all. Burke faced 38 shots in the marathon.
Edmonton 5, Winnipeg 3--Wayne Gretzky and his Oilers have served notice they do not intend to give up their championship without a fight.
For the second game in a row at Winnipeg, the Oilers spotted the tough Jets a 3-0 lead. Saturday night, the Oilers caught up, then lost. But this time they caught up, largely because they scored back-to-back power-play goals 38 late in the second period, and went on to win.
Normand Lacombe scored the go-ahead goal at 6:47 of the third period. When Gretzky set up his third goal of the night late in the game, the Oilers had a 3-1 series lead.
Detroit 8, Toronto 0--By shocking the Norris Division-champion Red Wings with a 6-2 victory in the opening game of the playoffs, all the Maple Leafs really did was wake up the Red Wings.
In this game at Toronto, the Red Wings scored their third consecutive impressive victory to take a 3-1 lead in the series. In the three games, the Leafs have been outscored, 20-5.
Gerard Gallant had two goals and an assist, and goaltender Glen Hanlon had to stop only 21 shots. The Red Wings, who were 42 points ahead of Toronto during the regular season, can wrap up the first round Tuesday night at Detroit.
Philadelphia 5, Washington 4--Murray Craven wheeled around and knocked in a five-foot backhand shot 71 seconds into overtime at Philadelphia to climax an amazing comeback and give the Flyers a 3-1 lead in the series.
The Flyers stormed back from a 4-1 deficit in the last 10 minutes of regulation to send it into overtime.
Rebound goals by Mike Gartner and Dale Hunter in the first three minutes of the third period built the 4-1 lead and brought Mark LaForest in to replace Ron Hextall in goal for the Flyers.
What appeared to be a give-up by Flyer Coach Mike Keenan instead inspired his team. The tying goal came with 53 seconds left by Kjell Samuelsson after LaForest was pulled for an extra attacker.
Hartford 7, Montreal 5--Kevin Dineen scored twice in a five-goal third-period explosion at Hartford that enabled the Whalers to avoid a sweep in the first round.
When the Canadiens lost scoring star Mats Naslund with a knee injury, it was feared the offense would suffer.
Such was not the case as the Canadiens won the first three games before losing. In this game, the best defense in the regular NHL season collapsed and gave up five goals in 17 minutes.
Stephane Richer continued to spark the Montreal offense, getting two goals and two assists.
Buffalo 6, Boston 5--John Tucker scored an unusual goal at 5:32 of overtime at Buffalo to get the Sabres even in their opening-round playoff series, 2-2. What was unusual was that it came on a power play. Almost never has an overtime goal been scored on a power play.
In the two games the Sabres won at home, Tucker scored six goals, including two in this one.
Pierre Turgeon, who also scored twice in this game, set up Tucker for the winner.
Boston fought back from 4-2 and 5-4 deficits in the third period.
St. Louis 6, Chicago 5--The Blackhawks kept threatening to tie this series at Chicago, but rookie Tony Hrkac would have none of that.
Hrkac's fourth goal of the game came with the Blues short-handed and five minutes remaining, giving the Blues a 3-1 lead in the first-round series.
Hrkac had only 11 goals during the season, but he was on target for this one.