Goulet says headache is worth it after scoring winning goal


CHICAGO -- When Michel Goulet dreamed as a boy of scoring a lights-out goal in the NHL playoffs, this wasn't exactly what he had in mind.

His imagination had him floating down left wing, then suddenly flicking his stick like a whip. The puck would travel too fast and fluid for the goalie to reach with pad, glove or stick and bury itself in the net's twine.

But reality was much different last night at Chicago Stadium in the Chicago Blackhawks' 4-2 victory over Edmonton. Goulet dragged 6-foot-3, 200-pound defenseman Craig Muni on his back like a grand piano as he skated netward. He slipped out of Muni's wrestling hold just enough to extend his stick in the final minutes of a 2-2 tie.

He felt Steve Larmer's pass deflect off his stick, didn't even see it happen because his head was on its way to being cracked on the ice when Muni kicked his skates from under him at the same time he made contact with the puck. And he only knew instinctively, as well as by the crowd reaction, that the eventual game-winner was in the net with 3:41 left.

This was a lights-out goal he never dreamed of scoring.

"I'm dizzy," Goulet said a half-hour later. "Got a headache. I was blacked out just a few seconds there. Muni caught me with an elbow."

Pass the aspirin. The Oilers need a few bottles themselves. They are down 2-0 in the Campbell Conference finals with the series shifting to Edmonton's Northlands Coliseum for Games 3 and 4 tomorrow and Friday nights.

"They showed tonight they won't back down," Blackhawks defenseman Steve Smith said. "They'll keep coming at us."

More importantly, Bill Ranford will be back. The Oilers goalie didn't lose. His team did. Ranford made 30 saves to get Edmonton to the last period ahead 2-1, even though the Oilers had had only eight shots.

He finished with 41 saves, 29 more than Blackhawks goalie Ed Belfour. Edmonton's 14 shots equaled its all-time playoff low, first set in the previous round against Vancouver.

Do you get the idea this isn't Edmonton's year? It sure seems like the Hawks are rolling to their first Stanley Cup final in 19 years and the chance to win it all for the first time in 31 years. They've now won a club-record nine straight games.

A victory tomorrow would allow them to tie the 1970 Boston Bruins' NHL record for most consecutive victories in one playoff year.

"Until we win the fourth game, you're never in control," Larmer said. "Ranford is a great goaltender and made us work for every goal we got."

Larmer scored the first two, but not until Edmonton had charged ahead 2-0 with opportunistic first-period goals by Anatoli Semenov and Bernie Nicholls.

But Larmer pounded in a Brian Noonan power-play pass to the right post late in the first period. Next came a frustrating second period in which Ranford stopped all 18 shots at him.

But 5:59 into the third period, Goulet found Larmer behind defenseman Kevin Lowe and in front of the crease. Larmer batted the chance under Ranford, one of his four goals in this series.

"I feel good right now physically and mentally," said Larmer, who suffered through a subpar regular season offensively. "The big reason is everybody is playing well on this team now."

And Edmonton, too, could take solace in the quality of its play, if not the score it produced.

"We certainly put in a lot better effort tonight that we had in Game 1," Oilers coach Ted Green said. "We forechecked a little better, but it wasn't good enough."

The Blackhawks had nine power plays to five for the Oilers, and Green said his team can't allow anyone that many chances and win.

"We can't compete with anybody in this league if we are going to spend a whole period in the penalty box. It's too much for us," he said.

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