Peter Stastny took up tonight right where he left off Thursday in Montreal, and as a result the Philadelphia Flyers find themselves in a hole in the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup playoffs.
Stastny's 40-footer sailed past goalie Pelle Lindbergh at 6:20 of overtime to carry the Quebec Nordiques to a 2-1 victory over the Flyers in the opener of the Prince of Wales Conference championship series.
It was Stastny who scored at 2:22 of sudden death to eliminate Montreal in the seventh game of the Adams Division final.
Once again joining Stastny as a Quebec hero was goaltender Mario Gosselin. He blocked 27 Philadelphia shots and was beaten only by a deflection off his own defenseman, Pat Price.
Gosselin made two sensational saves early in the extra period. First he closed his legs on Todd Bergen's close-range drive, then he gloved Dave Poulin's backhander from just outside the crease.
Possibly of even greater importance to the Flyers than their third loss in the last 26 games was a first-period knee injury that forced right wing Tim Kerr out of action. Kerr collided with teammate Ron Sutter and did not return.
The diagnosis, which Philadelphia refused to reveal until after the game, was a strained right knee. That is the same knee Kerr hurt March 8 in Washington. He was out six games and has played with a brace since.
Whether Kerr, the team's leading scorer, can play in the second game of the series on Tuesday is problematical. Obviously, the Flyers would miss him, since he scored 54 goals in the regular season and eight in the playoffs. However, Philadelphia won all six games he missed in March.
Quebec lost Mark Kumpel, after he was slashed in the shoulder by Derrick Smith in the first period, but Kumpel scored only nine goals this season and can be replaced without difficulty.
Stastny beat Montreal on a rebound, but this time he unloaded a long shot that seemed destined to sail over the net until it suddenly dipped, struck the crossbar and dropped behind Lindbergh.
Stastny's goal came about 90 seconds after Lindbergh misplayed a long shot by Alain Cote that struck the post at his right and caromed out of danger.
"I certainly didn't shoot thinking it was going to go in," Stastny said. "But I got the puck in a good situation, in motion, and you never know, it might go in at that stage.
"He (Lindbergh) was probably getting tired, because on Cote's shot from the blueline he barely made the save and pushed it to the goal post. On mine, the puck bounced before I hit it and it wasn't flat but was rotating. It seemed to be going over the net, then suddenly it was descending and it hit the crossbar and went in."
"My defenseman (Doug Crossman) was in front of me just enough so I couldn't see the shot start," Lindbergh said. "Then it seemed to be going high, but it dipped and got in."
Lindbergh, who stopped 42 shots, and Gosselin were sensational most of the night. There was no score until 7:13 of the third period, when Dale Hunter's midair deflection of a shot by Michel Goulet put Quebec in front.
Brad McCrimmon tied it for the Flyers at 13:02, when Quebec's Price unwisely tried to play his long shot from the blueline and wound up deflecting it past Gosselin.
"It just touched my glove and got by," Gosselin said. " . . . But we scored a lucky goal, too."
This was the Nordiques' fourth overtime victory without a loss in the playoffs, following three such triumphs in the Montreal series. Stastny felt that part of the reason was a change in philosophy.
"Last year we were terrible in overtime, because all we did was defend," Stastny said. "If you just defend, you'll tie or lose, and in the playoffs there are no ties.
"This year we've tried to show more offense in overtime and when you win a few, the way we have, you do develop a certain instinct."
Stastny said he enjoyed playing against the Flyers, following the bitter series against the Canadiens.
"I felt much better this game," he said. "Nobody was hooking and holding all the time, and there was not so much body contact on the ice. There was so much involved in Montreal, there was no fun to playing."
Stastny said he was bewildered by Kerr's disappearance, "I didn't see him get hurt . . .
"If he can't play, it's to our advantage. He's very important to them."