As it turns out, Kurri, who has been the Oilers' leading goal scorer each of the four times they have won the Stanley Cup, may only have needed another spring challenge. He celebrated his 30th birthday last Friday by getting three goals (and two assists) in Game 2 against Boston to surpass Gretzky as the league's alltime leading playoff goal scorer, with 92.
He had help from Moog, who less than two minutes after the Bruins had fought back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the score, allowed a Kurri drive from the edge of the right face-off circle to carom off his pad and stick and squirt between his legs. Kurri also enjoyed the benefit of Boston coach Mike Milbury's decision to lift Moog, who had allowed three goals in four shots, in favor of Reggie Lemelin at 4:21 of the second period. An 11-year NHL veteran, Lemelin had not played since allowing five goals in two periods of Game 4 of the Bruins' opening-round series against the Hartford Whalers. Kurri's eyes lit up like a pinball machine at the sight of Lemelin.
The Bruins jumped all over the Oilers early in the second game. Nonetheless, they couldn't get ahead. Ranford, brilliant on consecutive stops against Brian Propp, Janney and Cam Neely, was an intimidating presence; he forced Boston shooters to take a split-second longer to look for the corner of the goal before they fired. The harder they pressed to get into the attack, the easier it was for patient Edmonton, playing with the lead, to pick them apart.
Ranford was getting a lot of help from Tikkanen, a good scorer and strong cornerman who turns into superpest when a top-notch opposition playmaker requires his attention. He had Gretzky for breakfast and Chicago's Denis Savard for lunch in the two previous rounds. Now he had Janney alive for dinner, and through the first three games of the finals the Bruin playmaker failed to score a point.
Though this series, which was rated a virtual toss-up when it began, had swung dramatically in Edmonton's favor, Pocklington was still nickel-and-diming the players who had put the Oilers in front. After Game 2, when he was asked about the status of Kurd's contract negotiations, he said, "It's up to Jari, not up to me. We know what we can afford to pay him. Somebody said to me it's too much of a business to be a sport, but one thing we never do in business is lose our head and change the chemistry of our team by overpaying one person."
By week's end, the Oilers were two games away from a fifth Stanley Cup, after playing with a cast far different from Edmonton's first championship team of seven springs ago. That should tell you that there is only one person Pocklington can't afford not to overpay: Sather. Amid reports of Pocklington's declining fortune, his general manager has proved to be worth one.