Claude Lemieux, who said he was inspired by his paralyzed brother, scored 5:55 into overtime to send the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup semifinals with a 2-1 victory over the Hartford Whalers in Game 7 of their Adams Division playoff series last night in Montreal.

The Canadiens will play the New York Rangers in a best-of-seven series for the Wales Conference title beginning in Montreal Thursday night.

Lemieux, promoted from Sherbrooke of the AHL just before the playoffs, settled a classic goaltenders duel between Montreal rookie Patrick Roy, the game's No. 1 star, and Hartford's Mike Liut, the No. 2 star.

Lemieux, the No. 3 star, dug the puck out from behind the net and swept around to slap a shot past Liut's short side, starting a deafening celebration among 17,546 fans at the Forum.

"I was dreaming about that tonight," Lemieux, a French-Canadian said in heavily accented English. "I was in the room, I went in the corner and thought about it.

"I got to say I have a brother. He doesn't walk. He doesn't talk. He doesn't do anything. He is paralyzed. I talk to him when I need confidence. That's Serge; he's 20 years old and he's never lived with my family. He's always been staying in the hospital since his birth. When I think he's never seen me play, he's never been to the Forum, I should be able to go out with confidence, and think that I can do this."

His goal came on Montreal's second shot in the extra session. Hartford had none.

Hartford's Dave Babych tied the score with 2:48 left in regulation.

With 48 seconds remaining in regulation, Stephane Richer of the Canadiens was taken off on a stretcher. Babych had checked him off the puck. The injury was not believed to be serious.