PORTLAND, Ore. -- Michael St. Croix's third goal of the game at 7:24 of overtime saved the Edmonton Oil Kings' season on Friday, as they downed the Portland Winterhawks 3-2 in Game 5 of the Western Hockey League final.
Dylan Wruck assisted on all three goals and Laurent Brossoit made 49 saves for the Oil Kings, who now trail the series 3-2 heading into Sunday's Game 6 in Edmonton.
"Martin Gernat made a good play to get out of our zone and get us a 3-on-2," Wruck said of the winning goal. "I think (St. Croix) was looking to get a pass to T.J. Foster on the back side."
But the puck deflected off a Portland skate back to St. Croix, who wristed a shot past Winterhawks goalie Mac Carruth to silence a Portland crowd that hasn't seen its team win a WHL title on home ice since 1982.
"There's not too much you can say about that game," said Edmonton coach Derek Laxdal. "That was an outstanding game by both teams. We were just trying to live another day, and our guys played a gutsy game."
Joey Baker scored 15 seconds into the game to give Portland an early 1-0 lead, and it looked as if the Winterhawks would win the WHL title after coming up short in the past two finals.
"At one point we were outshooting them 9-0, so I thought we had a great start in a great atmosphere," said Portland coach Travis Green. "We played a good hockey game, we just didn't get the result we wanted."
Brendan Lepsic also scored for Portland, which had won the previous three games in the series.
Baker scored unassisted on the first rush of the game, splitting a pair of defenders and sliding the puck past Brossoit to make it 1-0 just 15 seconds into the first period.
Edmonton answered at 10:14 of the first when a centring feed by St. Croix went off the skate of Portland's Nicolas Petan and into the net.
In the third period, Carruth strayed far from his crease to the left boards play a dump-in by the Oil Kings, and ended up playing the puck behind his own goal right to Wruck, who found St. Croix in front with an open net for the go-ahead goal with 12:59 left in regulation.
"We were due for a couple like that," St. Croix said of the bizarre scenarios that led to his first two goals.
"At that time of the game, I didn't really expect (Carruth to make that play)," St. Croix continued. "But if he wants to go out and play the puck like that, it's fine with us."
The Winterhawks rallied to force overtime when Leipsic's backhand from a bad angle beat Brossoit high with 5:55 left in regulation.
Despite the late tally to force overtime, the Winterhawks ultimately couldn't get over the hump.
"Good teams win on the road, and we're going to have to get it done in Edmonton," said Lepsic, whose Winterhawks are 8-1 on the road in the post-season, including wins in Games 3 and 4 at Edmonton's Rexall Place.
Brossoit made 49 saves on 51 Portland shots, while Carruth stopped 27 shots in defeat.
Portland went 0 for 2 on the power play, while Edmonton never had the man advantage.
Game 6 takes place in Edmonton on Sunday. If needed, Game 7 will be back in Portland on Monday.
"Our guys really hung in there tonight," said Laxdal. "We just wanted to get it back to Edmonton, and still have a lot of work to do."