Paul Holmgren scored three goals, Bob Clarke collected four points to top 100 for his career and the Philadelphia Flyers mucked their way to an 8-3 victory over the New York Islanders tonight, evening the Stanley Cup final series at a game apiece. None of the Flyers was overwhelmed by those accomplishments.
"I haven't even thought about the hat trick," said Holmgren, the club policeman who never before had scored more than one goal in a playoff game. "In an 8-3 game, you get a lot of chance. I'm just glad we had the eight."
"All 100 points means is that I'm getting old," said Clarke, who has collected 101 in 110 playoff games.
"We have to keep things in perspective," said Flyer Coach Pat Quinn. "We got lucky on a couple of early goals and then when the Islanders had to open up, we got more chances. The early jump was the key for us. We don't play good catchup hockey and they don't either."
The Flyers had to catch up early, because Butch Goring sent New York in front at 3:23 on a rebound of his own shot. The beaten man in the crease was defenseman Behn Wilson, since goalie Pete Peters had come far out to make the initial save.
It could have been 3-0 if Goring had been a bit more fortunate. With Philadelphia's Tom Gorence in the penalty box, Goring took a Denis Potvin pass behind the Flyer defense and had Peeters beaten, but his shot struck a goal post.
Not long afterward, with New York's Persson off for tripping, Goring stole the puck from Bill Barber just outside the Flyer crease and shot quickly. Peeters made the save and the game turned around within two minutes.
Persson was still a spectator when Holmgren converted Brian Propp's setup to tie the game. Seventy-five seconds later, Bob Kelly sent the Flyers ahead to stay with a close-in drive that struck goalie Bill Smith's pad and trickled a bare inch over the goal line before defenseman Bob Lorimer cleared it.
Clarke netted a rebound of a Jim Waston shot for his 30th career playoff goal before the period ended. Then in round two a 16-5 Philadelphia shooting advantage helped the Flyers boost the lead to 6-2.
Barber came around from behind the net and shoved the puck behind Smith's legs to make it 4-1. Bryan Trottier reduced the margin to 4-2 before Holmgren's second score, also in an extra-man situation, broke the game open.
This goal was hotly disputed by all the Islanders, particularly Smith. Holmgren shot and followed the puck toward the net as Smith made the save. Potvin tackled Holmgren, who kicked the puck over the line as he fell. Referee Wally Harris, after discussion with the linemen, ruled the kick was accidental and the goal counted.
"They were in my crease a lot and that fifth goal was definitely a kick," Smith complained. "What do we have to do get them to call it?"
Propp deflected a Bob Dailey drive past Smith to make it 6-2 late in the period for the Flyers' third power-play goal. The fans behind Smith responded by derisively chanting "Chi-co," the nickname of the Islanders' backup goalie, Glenn Resch.
They were soon chanting "Chi-co" more vehemently as Resch replaced Smith at the start of the third period and was beaten on the first two shots directed his way, by Tom Gorence and Holmgren. It should have been three-for-three, except that Al Hill somehow missed an open net from directly in front.
Along with the avalanche of goals came an increase in penalty time, the Flyers serving 50 minutes and the Islanders 34. It was almost predictable, because the referee was Harris, who likes to "let them play," in contrast to Andy Van Hellemond, who kept the first game under strict control.
The Flyers, who had backed off from provocation in game one, showed on reluctance to wield sticks and elbows this time, but Quinn said, "I'd like to think we took a different approach to it. It had nothing to do with the referees."
Early confrontations, largely unpunished, developed into some ugly encounters and Islander Coach Al Arbour griped afterward that, "They have a lot of spear carriers out there. We will, too." That would indicate a long night Saturday, when the series resumes in Nassau Coliseum.
The worst outbreak of violence occurred late in the second period and helped to create a ludicrous situation in which four Islanders and three Flyers were jammed into the penalty boxes with cameramen.
Smith went behind his net and swept the puck into the corner. He struck Barber with his stick on the follow-through and Barber promptly whacked the stick from Smith's hands. Ex-Capital Gord Lane slashed Barber, then Lane and Barber dueled with their sticks in the tradition of Errol Flynn swashbuckling.
Later, Holmgren tried to jab New York's Duane Sutter with his stick as he was leaving the ice and that provoked a battle between Sutter and Mel Bridgman in front of the Islander bench that brought each participant 15 minutes in penalties and threatened to develop into an all-night bumping and grinding session.
For a final bad aftertaste, Flyer Behn Wilson cross-checked New York's Garry Howattt into Peeters, who was flattened. Wilson then jumped on Howatt and punched him several times, earning a double minor and a game misconduct. Howatt earlier had tripped Ken Linesman, then flattened Peeters as the goalie headed for the bench on the delayed penalty.
Holmgren twisted his neck in a third-period collision with Wayne Merrick, but it will not keep him out of Saturday's game. His spear will be needed.