Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Washington Coach Danny Belisle was angry Saturday night. He wasn't angry that the Islanders had won the NHL game at the Nassau Collseum, 4-1, and he wasn't angry that the Capitals had allowed 45 shots on goal.
The Caps coach was angry at referee Dave Newell and linesman Bob Luther.
"We played a spirited game and Bernie (Wolfe) was super in goal, but they took it away from us," he said. The plan that angered Belisle was a power-play goal by Denis Potvin midway through the third period that turned the game around. It raised the Islander lead to 3-1 and broke what seemed to be a Washington comeback.
With Leif Swensson in the penalty box for holding, the Islanders shot the puck into the right corner. Bryan Trottier and Yvon Labre went after it and both players crashed into the boards. Trottier came up with the puck and fed it to Bert Marshall while Labre struggled to get to his feet. Marshall's return pass to Trottier wound up on Potvin's stick and became a power-play goal seconds later.
"Luther should have stopped the play when Labre was injured," fumed Belisle. "He had a clear view of the injury but play continued for about another 20 seconds until Potvin put it in the net.
"Newell claims we were right, play should have been stopped, but he didn't see the accident. Maybe if Yvon had stayed down, we might have got the whistle, but the linesman should have stopped play. He took us right out of the game."
"I went into the corner with Trottier and he landed on my shoulder," whispered Labre, his arm in a sling, his voice pained. "I tried to get up, but when I put pressure on my arm all I could do was watch as Potvin's shot went in."
"I didn't know he was hurt," said Trottier. "I figured he just had the wind knocked out of him."
Potvin added another goal four minutes later to wrap up the game.
But Wolfe was spectacular, stopping 16 of 17 shorts in the opening period including five that were of the breakaway variety. Bob Bourne finally put one behind the Cap netminder at 3:35.
New York made it 2-0 early in the second period on a shorthand goal by Eddie Westfall, who took a lead pass from Billy Harris and beat Wolfe on the glove side.
Washington got one back on a power-play goal by Guy Charron at the 16-minute mark, as Charron whacked in a rebound of Bob Picard's shot.
And so it was 2-1 going into the third period.
Just prior to the disputed power play goal, rookie Ryan Walter had his first NHL fight, and he picked a tough one for his debut, Clark Gillies, at 6-foot-3 and 220. And he caught the Islander captain in a mean mood.
Gillies, who had been hearing the catcalls from the fans had removed the helmet he has been wearing all season, at the start of the third period.
"Let's just say I forgot to put it on," he replied.
Walter seemed to hold his own, however, despite some crunching rights from Gillies.
And then there was Wolfe kicking out shots from all angles, backhanding bullets like a Graig Nettles at third base and keeping the Caps in the game.
"Bernie played his usual game against us," said Islander goalie Chico Resch, who watched last night's game from the bench. "He always comes up big against our team."