After the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Quebec Nordiques tonight in the pivotal fifth game of the Prince of Wales Conference championship series, it was difficult to imagine who was more upset, Quebec Coach Michel Bergeron or Detroit General Manager Jimmy Devellano.
After the Flyers' 2-1 victory, Bergeron declined to attend the postgame press conference, instead holding an impromptu lecture in an office with a videotape machine. His topic was the repeated fouls by the Flyers that he felt went uncalled by referee Kerry Fraser.
Devellano was among the 15,300 spectators and, although unavailable for postgame comment, he had to be shaking his head. The Flyers' two goals, as they rallied from a 1-0 deficit in the third period, were scored by Joe Paterson and Murray Craven, the two young forwards Philadelphia obtained from Detroit in October for Darryl Sittler. Each has three goals in this now 3-2 series, which continues, and could end, Thursday in Philadelphia.
Fraser had many difficult decisions, because of the nature of a game that featured more wayward sticks and post-whistle hits than good scoring opportunities. But certainly his toughest ruling came with 2:10 to play, when Michel Goulet apparently tied the score for the Nordiques. Fraser did not hesitate in giving the washout sign, because Goulet had kicked in the puck.
"The puck was passed from behind the goal directly into Goulet's feet," Fraser said. "He turned his skate and directed it in."
"(Alain) Lemieux was in the corner and when he passed me the puck, a guy (Doug Crossman) had my stick," Goulet said. "I just try to stop the puck. I didn't mean to push it in. Somebody held my stick, that's why I use my skate. They held my stick all night."
That tactic, along with others in which the Flyers have become expert, was fully covered in Bergeron's seminar. He stopped the tape on a segment where a Flyer was holding Anton Stastny's stick and said, "Now you know why we try to score with our skate and our head. We can't score with our stick. Night after night, what can I do? What can I say?
"They say Bergeron is always crying about the referees. Fraser is supposed to be the best, so what can I say? My players are getting frustrated and if this keeps up, something will happen. If the league wants that style of play, it will kill the game. It was just horrible."
Horrible certainly described the scoreless first period, as Fraser tried to maintain order by calling three misconducts, four majors and three minors.
There was one that Fraser missed, as Quebec's Peter Stastny was speared in the stomach by Ed Hospodar. It played a key role in Bergeron's demonstration, along with third-period films of Hospodar cross-checking and slashing Anton Stastny. Brother Peter Stastny lost his temper, rapped Hospodar in the head with his stick and drew a major, to Hospodar's minor.
The Flyers could not manage a shot on a four-minute first-period power play, after Quebec's Dale Hunter was charged with elbowing and roughing Ron Sutter.
At 7:02 of the second period, the Nordiques took a 1-0 lead, Jean-Francois Sauve beating Pelle Lindbergh on a short-side drive from the right wing circle while Quebec enjoyed a two-man advantage.
In the third period, the Flyers were on a carryover power play, Paul Gillis having been called for hooking Paterson with 10 seconds left in the second. This was their sixth extra-man opportunity and they finally capitalized. Paterson parked himself just outside the crease and redirected Mark Howe's pass out of the right wing corner: 1-1, a minute into the third period.
Later, the Flyers mounted a two-on-one break, Craven and Brian Propp against Pat Price. Taking Propp's pass in the right wing circle, Craven lined a shot off the left arm of goaltender Mario Gosselin into the net with 4:59 left.
"It's always nice to get a game winner in a situation like this," Craven said. "But Joe had the key goal. We really needed to get one early in the third period to give us a lift. We picked our heads up a little more and won it. Now we've got to go back home and win one more."