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STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

Just in Time, Oilers Stop Avalanche, 4-3

Western Conference: Goals by Smyth and Buchberger save Edmonton from a 3-0 series deficit.

May 08, 1997|From Associated Press

EDMONTON, Alberta — Trailing late in the game and facing a 3-0 deficit in their playoff series with the defending champion Colorado Avalanche, the Edmonton Oilers didn't panic.

Instead, they staged a memorable rally as Ryan Smyth and Kelly Buchberger scored 2:18 apart deep into the third period Wednesday night for a 4-3 victory.

Buchberger scored his second goal of the game at 13:57 to tie it 3-3. At 16:15, Smyth converted a centering pass for the winner with goaltender Patrick Roy sitting down in his crease.

The comeback victory was Edmonton's first win in the Western Conference semifinal series. Game 4 is scheduled for the Edmonton Coliseum on Friday night.

"It's a great feeling to get a win here especially in front of our home fans," Smyth said. "They helped us through.

"Getting behind the 8-ball 2-0 is hard; that was a huge game for our hockey club."

The Avalanche looked secure as they took a 3-2 lead into the final period on the strength of a six-point outing from the line of Peter Forsberg, Claude Lemieux and Valery Kamensky, and the play of Roy.

Each of the Avalanche stars had a goal and an assist, while Sandis Ozolinsh added three assists for Colorado. Roy was regularly impenetrable.

But Buchberger, who started the Oilers' scoring in the first period with a shot into an unguarded net after Smyth knocked an Avalanche player into Roy, tied it.

Then Smyth, an overtime hero in the Oilers' first-round upset of the Dallas Stars, beat Roy.

It was a zany game that saw Forsberg leave midway through the third period after falling awkwardly and hitting his head on the ice. He was diagnosed with a minor concussion and did not return.

The wackiness started 90 seconds in when Roy had to do a U-turn while skating to the bench in favor of an extra attacker during a delayed penalty call against the Oilers.

Colorado's Stephane Yelle sent a centering pass from behind Oilers goaltender Curtis Joseph past everybody, bouncing it off the boards and sending it directly toward the Avalanche goal before Roy dived to deflect it away.

Colorado scored on the ensuing power play when Kamensky fended off Greg deVries with his left arm and with one hand set up Forsberg at 2:25. It was Colorado's first shot on Joseph.

Only 55 seconds later, Buchberger scored the easiest goal of his career as Smyth bumped Avalanche defenseman Jon Klemm into Roy, who fell hopelessly out of position. Buchberger scored from the boards into the empty net. Roy argued to no avail.

The Oilers took a 2-1 lead when Jason Arnott scored late in the period.

Notes

Former Calgary Flame left wing Gary Roberts, who retired last June 17 after a two-year battle with neck problems, reportedly is ready to come back to the NHL. CHQR radio in Calgary says that Roberts will make the announcement on the one-year anniversary of his tearful retirement.

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