Short-handed goals occur infrequently but carry a great psychological impact. The New York Islanders, trailing 3-1 and being outhustled by the New York Rangers, used a short-handed score by Butch Goring to reverse the momentum tonight and went on to beat the Rangers, 7-3, for a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven Stanley Cut semifinal.

Within five minutes of that short-handed shocker in the second period, Mike Bossy tied the score on a power play and another goal by Goring sent the Islanders ahead to stay.

"That was a big goal, no question," Goring said. "Any time you get a short-handed goal, it lifts your hockey team. In that case, if they had scored, it would have given them a three-goal lead and it would have been all over. It's tough to give up a short-handed goal, but this time I think it was more of a lift for us than a downer for them. We were working hard, but we hadn't accomplished anything, and that got us going."

The puck, jammed against the boards in the Islander end, suddenly squirted out and Goring headed up ice with Billy Carroll. Goring cut across the blueline, watched by Ranger Ulf Nilsson, and unloaded a 40-footer that dipped and went into the net off the edge of goalie Steve Baker's glove.

"When you're short, your main concern is to kill penalties," Goring said, "but all our penalty killers are good goal scorers and if we get the chance, we'll try for it. I just tried to shoot as hard as I could and put it on net."

Two minutes later, Ranger Ron Duguay, a whirlwind in a losing cause, was caught hooking Duane Sutter. It took just five seconds for the Islanders' power play, best in the NHL, to tie the game. Mike McEwen, from the right point, passed to Bossy in the left-wing circle and his quick shot beat Baker.

Goring converted a rebound of a drive by ex-Capital Gord Land 2 1/2 minutes later and the Islanders were ahead to stay. It took another 20 minutes before they increased their margin to two goals, on a power-play rebound by Clark Gillies, but the Rangers had few good scoring chances in the interim.

Anders Kallur added a second short-handed score, on a setup by Bryan Trottier, who was recording a point for the 18th straight playoff game. Bossy then scored his second of the game on a breakaway, as the Islanders once again wrapped a three-goal flurry inside a five-minute span.

Wayne Merrick sent the Islanders in front on the game's first shot, as he beat Baker from 40 feet after 48 seconds. The Rangers, however, built a 3-1 lead before the first period ended, on goals by Doug Sulliman, Dean Talafous and Anders Hedberg.

The Rangers were outskating the Islanders, beating them to the puck most of the time, and they continued that hustle in the first eight minutes of the second period, until Goring turned things around.

"We're not a team that quits," Goring said. "We have a lot of patience. It's our building and just because we're down two goals, we're not going to pack it in."

This was a fast-skating, hard-hitting game and the Rangers obviously came with the intention of winning it. Now they go back to Madison Square Garden Saturday for Game 3 and the sight of home ice will be tempered by the knowledge that they must win four of the next five games from the Islanders, a team that has lost only three of its last 28. CAPTION:

Picture, Ron Duguay of the Rangers gets an upside-down view of the puck going into the net on Dean Talafous' tip of Duguay's pass. The Islanders won, 7-3. AP