The New York Islanders are still alive. So is Wayne Gretzky, in case there was any doubt.
While the Islanders were defeating Philadelphia, 6-2, Thursday night to force a fifth game here Sunday in the Patrick Division final, Gretzky was frolicking through a seven-point night as Edmonton completed a four-game sweep in Winnipeg, 8-3.
Only one other time has a player scored seven points in a playoff game. That was on April 17, 1983, and the perpretator that night also was Gretzky, in a 10-2 romp at Calgary. He obviously is no homer.
Thursday, he had three goals and four assists as the Oilers earned a nine-day rest before they face the winner of the Chicago-Minnesota series. Chicago, leading 3-1 after Darryl Sutter's second-overtime goal produced a 7-6 victory Thursday, will be the host for Game 5 Sunday night.
Two of Gretzky's goals came with Edmonton short-handed, tying another playoff record that he previously shared with Toronto's Dave Keon and the Islanders' Bryan Trottier.
Gretzky had been relatively quiet during the Oilers' first six playoff games, with three goals and eight assists. But Thursday's barrage moved him back on the course that saw him set a single-season playoff record of 38 points in 1983. Last year, when Edmonton won the Stanley Cup, he had 35, which is second best.
The Islanders, whose string of four Stanley Cup championships was ended by the Oilers a year ago, averted what would have been the New York team's first losing sweep in its 34 playoff series.
The fans at Nassau Coliseum did not come with the intention of bidding their heroes farewell until next year. The sellout crowd of 16,002 unleashed balloons, made the building smoky with an excess of sparklers and no doubt contributed to the Flyers' headaches with a crescendo of sound.
"It's Not Over Until We Say It Is," one banner proclaimed boldly. On the Coliseum wall were three pennants, reading "1942" and "1975" and "1985." The '42 flag was in the blue and white of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the first team to overcome a 3-0 deficit when they beat Detroit in the final.
The '75 and '85 figures were emblazoned in the Islanders' orange and blue. New York became the second team to come back from three games down, beating Pittsburgh in the 1975 quarterfinals.
After the Flyers went three up on Tuesday, Trottier was asked if it was the end of an era. "Why, did we lose four tonight?" he replied.
Trottier scored his 54th playoff goal Thursday to lift the Islanders into a 2-0 lead that Denis Potvin and Mike Bossy eventually increased to a very comfortable 4-0.
Afterward, Trottier was asked if the Islanders had taken a monkey off their backs by chasing goaltender Pelle Lindbergh, who was replaced by Bob Froese after yielding four goals in 12 shots.
"Whether we gained some confidence from finally getting the puck by him is hard to say," Trottier said. "I'll let you know Sunday night. But as for him, I think it was a smart move to pull him. None of those goals were bad goals, so why take the chance of him losing his confidence?"
Bossy's goal, his first of the series, was his 82nd in Stanley Cup play, tying the career mark of Montreal's legendary Maurice Richard.
"It wasn't something I was concerned about, because I figured to get another chance next year anyway," Bossy said. "But it's not something I'm nonchalant about, especially considering who I tied. This is really an honor."
Kelly Hrudey got his first playoff victory in the Islanders' nets as a replacement for battle-weary Bill Smith. Hrudey stopped 24 shots, including a big first-period save on Brian Propp with the Islanders leading, 2-0.
Although Coach Al Arbour said he will pick Sunday's goalie on Saturday, there seems little doubt the job is Hrudey's.
The only even NHL playoff series, between Montreal and Quebec, will be resumed Saturday night at the Forum. The Canadiens took back the home-ice advantage with a 3-1 victory at Le Colisee on Thursday.
Montreal played without two injured defensemen, Petr Svoboda and Chris Chelios.