For the Montreal Canadiens, it simply does not pay to work overtime against the Quebec Nordiques.
Peter Stastny's rebound at 2:22 of sudden death carried the Nordiques to a 3-2 victory over the Canadiens tonight and gave Quebec the Adams Division championship, four games to three.
It was the third time in this series that Quebec won in an extra period and, since they joined the NHL in 1979, the Nordiques have beaten Montreal in five overtime games without a loss, four of them at the Forum.
Montreal goalie Steve Penney blocked a long shot by Pat Price and foiled Stastny's first rebound try, but Stastny was able to regain possession and knock it into the net, touching off a wild celebration by the Nordiques while most of the 18,076 fans departed quietly.
Reflecting the intensity of this rivalry, however, a minority began a chant of, "Let's go, Flyers." With the victory, Quebec advanced to the Prince of Wales Conference championship series against Philadelphia, with the first game set for Le Colisee in Quebec City Sunday night.
"It's important, but it's not the goal to win the Stanley Cup," Stastny said afterward. "There are bigger goals you can score. The people, the media and the players all make this a big rivalry, and the first couple of years I was right in the middle; so excited every time we played. Now, my view is maybe different. But I'm not putting it down. It was a great feeling to score" . . .
Stastny began the decisive play by winning a faceoff from Guy Carbonneau in the Montreal end.
"After the faceoff, there was one shot and then the puck was in front of me," Stastny said. "I shot it and Steve made a good save. It was in his glove but his arm came around and it slid out, right to me. It was bouncing and it wasn't a clear shot, but I had just enough room to push it in (just inside the post at Penney's right)."
The Nordiques' other principal hero was goaltender Mario Gosselin, who stopped 24 shots and stayed in the game despite taking a vicious slap shot by Mario Tremblay on the breastbone near the left shoulder in the second period.
Quebec had a 2-0 lead at the time, having scored on a long screened shot by Bruce Bell and a routine attempt by Jean Francois Sauve that caromed off the inside of Penney's pad.
When he was hit, Gosselin dropped his stick and fell on his back. He lay there while physicians and trainers raced out to treat him. It looked so serious that the crowd, which originally cheered the injury, gave Gosselin two genuine ovations when he rose and when he remained in the game.
Montreal scored on its next shot, as Pierre Mondou deflected a drive by Mats Naslund. Gosselin then foiled breakaways by Lucien DeBlois and Carbonneau before Naslund tied the game on a rebound of a long shot by Larry Robinson.
Gosselin made a big save on Chris Chelios to maintain the tie during a cautiously played third period. On the ice following a flurry of shots, Gosselin reached out with his stick to block Chelios' drive from the right point.
Afterward, Gosselin wore a bandage over the area where he had been struck and said, "I feel great. I don't feel nothing now. I don't know what the doctor did to it -- I didn't want to look in the mirror to see.
"I couldn't breathe and I couldn't swallow and I asked the trainer for some water. I felt my (left) arm getting a little stiff, but it was iced between the second and third periods, and I felt okay."
Both teams dressed a full force of injured players -- defensemen Chelios and Rick Green and winger Ryan Walter for Montreal; Goulet and center Dale Hunter for Quebec.
This was a highly physical game and Hunter, who missed Tuesday's game because of an infected hand incurred when he punched Tremblay Saturday, was flattened by DeBlois on his first shift tonight. He played briefly thereafter, then assumed a cheerleading role.
Although Penney could not be faulted on Stastny's game-winner, he had some shaky moments. Twice, long shots by Mark Kumpel slipped between Penney's pads, to be covered in the crease. One of them occurred 34 seconds before Stastny ended it.
"In overtime, you don't see many beauty goals," Stastny said. "You sometimes shoot from longer distances because nobody has nerves of steel -- in this series, especially."