Rookie Don Maloney scored two goals 26 seconds apart tonight, rallying the New York Rangers to a win 5-1 victory over the Philadephia Flyers and ending a weird jinx on Madison Square Garden ice.
The Rangers had not beaten Philadelphia here in their last 10 meetings over three seasons, and three times this year they tied after building leads of three or more goals over the Flyers. Tonight's victory gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead in their Stanley Cup quarterfinal series.
"I guess we were saving it for a big one - reverse psychology," said goalie John Davidson, whose 32 saves played a large part in the outcome.
Davidson was tested eight times in the first 5 1/2 minutes, with Mel Bridgman coverting one of the eight for a 1-0 Philadelphia lead.
Early in the second period, Maloney tied it on a deflection of a Carol Vadnais slap shot. Then, on the same shift, he got behind defenseman Bob Dailey, took Phil Esposito's pass and cut from the left-wing boards into the slot, where he backhanded a shot between the pads of Flyer goalie Wayne Stephenson.
"Phil made a nice play and then Don Murdoch acted as a decoy, drawing the defenseman to him," Maloney said. "I hesitated and I was left open, so I went for the net."
When Anders Hedberg scored a short-handed goal, following Walt Tkaczuk's steal from Reg Leach, the Rangers had scored three times in 3 1/2 minutes and the Flyers were reeling.
"I think the turning point was Anders Hedberg's goal," Maloney said. "There's nothing that takes the wind out of you like a short-handed goal."
It was the second short-handed score yielded by the Flyers' power play in two games, after Philadelphia led the NHL by giving up only two in 80 regular-season games.
Ron Duguay and Don Murdoch wrapped up the scoring in the third period, Murdoch connecting after Flyer Coach Pat Quinn yanked Stephenson for a sixth skater.
As the clock ticked down the final seconds, a fan spit on Philadelphia's backup goalie, Robbie Moore, and several Flyers tried to hit the culprit with their sticks. It made for an ugly confrontation, with fans throwing debris and making obscene gestures at the Flyers.
"We were ready to defend our players8" said Flyer Bob Kelly. "It's over with now, it's between management and security. We're not here to give the game a black eye."
Each team had a goal disallowed by refree Dave Newell. The Ranger's Mario Marois seemingly created a 1-1 tie early in the first period, but Newell whistled high sticking penalities on Ranger Eddie Johnstone and Flyer Moose Dupont before the puck entered the net.
With New York ahead, 3-1, an apparent score by Flyer Behn Wilson was nullified because Wilson kicked the puck past Davidson.
"I had hold of his stick and there was no way he could get it on it," said Ranger Dave Maloney. "And Newell was right there in position to see it."
Johnstone made a big save as a penalty killer early in the second period. Davidson came far out to block a shot by Bobby Clarke and the rebound caromped off Rick MacLeish's skate and skipped toward the vacated net. Johnstone batted it clear.
"I saw the puck coming and it was bouncing crazy," Johnstone said. "That's why it got so close to the goal. I could have swept at it earlier, but I wanted to make sure of it. As it was, I had my skate behind my stick, in case it got over it."
It didn't, and the Flyers never got over what Don Maloney did to them a minute later.