In their 13th visit to Nassau Colliseum tonight, the Washington Capitals scored four goals, more than ever before. Rollie Boutin shut out the New York Islanders for the first 36 minutes and Washington twice built two-goal leads. In the end, however, the Capitals proved unable to achieve their first victory here.
Mike Bossy collected his eighth hat trick of the season, a National Hockey League record, and ran his goal production to 48 in 47 games as the Islanders rallied for a 6-4 victory.
After two Bossy goals had lifted the Islanders into a 3-3 tie, Bengt Gustafsson sent Washington back in front with 10:07 left in the game. Dennis Ververgaert, hooked down as he cut toward the net, poked the puck in front and Gustafsson knocked it in as Butch Goring flattened him from behind.
Gustafsson bruised his right ankle on the goal post and is questionable for Sunday night's 7 o'clock contest against Hartford at Capital centre.
What happened 13 seconds later was painful, too. Islander Bob Bourne broke down the left wing, took Anders Kallur's pass behind defenseman Rick Smith and beat Boutin on the breakaway to tie it up.
"I thought maybe that fourth goal would cap it for us and we could hold it 'til the end," said Washington Coach Gary Green. "But they came back so quickly. They put on great pressure and they moved the puck so quickly you have to be awfully quick to defense then."
The Capitals were growing weary under the relentless pressure and with 4:21 left in the game the islanders took the lead for the first time. Boutin blocked Bob Lorimer's drive from the right point and the puck caromed out to the right-wing circle. Clark Gillies pounced on the rebound and drilled it past Boutin for the gamewinner.
Bossy wrapped it up on an empty-net score with 68 seconds left, Bryan Trottier delaying to set up his teammate for the record hat trick. It is 50 goals in 50 games that Bossy is pursuing most eagerly, however.
"I want to do it because the Rocket (Maurice Richard) is a legend in Quebec more than anything else and I grew up there."
Richard accomplished the 50-in-50 feat for Montreal in 1943-44, long before Bossy was born. Bossy, who now has 221 career goals, will celebrate his 24th birthday on Thursday.
"Everything seems to stick to his stick," said Boutin. "It's sure tough when that line is out there. They move it around and they just keep coming at you."
Goals by Ryan Walter and Rolf Edberg had Washington leading, 2-0, before Boutin dropped a shot by John Tonelli, which fell behind him into the net at 16:39 of the second period. That ended a string of 137 minutes, 56 seconds of scoreless goaltending by Washington.It also terminated the booing directed at the Islanders by the crowd of 15,008, which was displeased by Washington's successful forechecking.
Walter deflected a Pat Ribble drive for his second goal of the game with 57 seconds left in the period and Washington hopes of a third straight victory were high. However, Bossy connected from the right wing boards 33 seconds later, the puck caroming in off Boutin's stick.
"I didn't see it, that's why I went down," Boutin said."I thought I had it covered. I got a good piece of it, but it got by. It happened so quick, but it should have never have been given up."
"It was a big goal," Green said. "It gave them momentum going into the third period. Bossy is an amazing shooter. Rollie had a good first half, but when they put the pressure on -- that's a sight for anybody's eyes."
Bossy tied it at 8:35 of the third period, after taking Trottier's feed on a three-on-one break. Boutin was moving from left to right and the puck struck his chest and caromed into the corner of the net.
Gustafsson provided the Capitals' last gasp, and then it was time to praise the winners.
"We stuck to them for two periods," Green said. "In the third they showed what kind of the team they are, the Stanley Cup champions."