Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers poured in goals last night as easily as the Red Sox and friends belt home runs at Fenway Park. And just as the Red Sox possess a late-inning wizardry the Bruins scored twice in the last six minutes for a 7-5 victory.
This was a game Boston appeared to have won twice. The Bruins held a 5-1 lead after 25 minutes and many fans were already celebrating. But a botched line change helped the Flyers get a goal and by the two-minute mark of the final period it was 5-5.
Then it was time for that latter-day Frank Merriwell, blond Rick Middleton, to perform his usual heroics.
Middleton slipped away from rookie defenseman Kevin McCarthy and anchored himself just outside the Flyers' crease. He waved his stick to attract puck carrier Brad Park's attention, accepted Park's pass and flipped the puck over goalie Bernie Parent while McCarthy looked roofward, arm outstretched.
"As the puck came to me, out of the corner of my eye I saw Bernie go down and slide across," said Middleton, who had beaten the Flyers in overtime Tuesday. "I got the puck right on my stick and I just wanted to lift it."
Park, who played like a "blacksmith," his word, in Tuesday's opener, had stickhandled briliantly to maintain possession for the setup, which provided Middleton's second goal of the game with 5:36 remaining. With 3:21 left, Park drilled a shot down the middle, Parent came out to block it and the rebound went right to Gregg Sheppard for an empty-net clincher.
Boston clicked on its first two power plays and Middletown sandwiched a super shot in between for a 3-0 lead. One on one against defenseman Rick Lapointe, Middleton faked him inside, then went outside and hit the far corner from the right-wing circle.
After Orest Kindrachuk's extraman score put the Flyers on the board, Jean Ratelle lifted Boston to a 4-1 lead just nine seconds before the first period ended. It became 5-1 at 2:36 of the second as the Bruins' Don Marcotte was hooked into Parent, knocking the goalie down and enabling Bobby Schmautz to score his second goal on an empty net.
Parent charged referee Wally Harris in protest while the fans derisively chanted "Ber-nie."
Before Boston scored again, the fans were jeering the Bruins. Bill Barber and Rick MacLeish halved the lead, then Bob Dailey scored 40 seconds before the close of the second period to make it 5-4. Bobby Clarke pulled the Flyers even at 1:41 of the third period and the Bruins' hopes seemed to be receding, with goalie Gerry Cheevers' lateral movement obviously hampered by the two sore knees.
Barber's goal, which set off the Flyer rally, was a deflection of a 40-foot blast by MacLeish, left unchecked when a Boston center failed to execute an on-the-fly line change. But Cheever's immobility was a major factor as the lead was chewed up.
"It was basically a letdown by me," Cheevers said. "I didn't challenge them. I stayed back in the net, ho-hum."
From a ho-hum start it became an electric contest and Boston Coach Don Cherry, smiling despite a severe case of flu, said, "That was a beautiful game, very exciting. But you think that wasn't depressing, to have a 5-1 lead and have them come back? I was depressed. The guys did it themselves. They dug down and did it. I've never been more proud of a team, either here in Boston or with the Rochester Americans."
There were some heavy hits, but on the whole the game lacked the tight checking prescribed by the respective game plans. Cherry was not upset by the free-lancing.
"A win's a win," he said. "I don't care if it's 10-9, it's better than a nice, tight checking game where you lose 1-0."
Two up in the best-of-seven series, the Bruins move on to Philadelphia for game three Sunday night, and Cherry sarcastically thanked the Boston fans for preparing the team.
"This crowd doesn't give us much of a chance, does it?" Cherry said. "They're vicious, unbelievable. When another team gets close to us, they start booing. Well, at least they got us ready for Philadelphia."