The way the New York Islanders were breezing tonight, it appeared possible that the Stanley Cup final might be completed without controversy over the performance of the officials. As usual, however, it did not happen that way.
The Minnesota North Stars, trailing the Islanders by 3-1 after 20 minutes, came back to tie the score early in the third period. Then a couple of rulings by referee Bryan Lewis contributed mightily to a decisive goal by Denis Potvin and the Islanders went on to win, 6-3.
As a result, the Islanders carry a 2-0 lead in Sunday's third game of this best-of-seven series at Bloomington, Minn. The way tempers were aggravated tonight, it figures to be a torrid evening.
After Steve Payne netted a rebound of a Tim Young drive to make it 3-3, Minnesota goalie Don Beaupre turned acrobat to block shots by Anders Kallur and Mike Bossy. Then Islander Denis Potvin was penalized for tripping and the North Stars appeared to have the momentum to pull in front.
An apparent Minnesota trip was ignored by Lewis, who was subject to a verbasl harangue by Islander defenseman Gord Lane and obscenities chanted by many of the 15,008 fans. Not long after Potvin escaped the box, Minnesota's Neal Broten turned Islander Clark Gillies around a bit with his stick and was chased for hooking.
With Broten off, Islander Bryan Trottier and North Star Fred Barrett high -sticked each other and fell near the Minnesota net. When the two rose, Trottier skated around the net and charged into Beaupre.
Lewis penalized Trottier and Barett for the original high sticks, ignoring the blatant attack by Trottier. New York, still on the power play, then broke the tie on Potvin's 40-foot blast down the middle. The North Stars, pressing for a tying goal, surrendered further scores to Ken Morrow and Bossy.
There are mandatory fines for criticizing officials, so the National Hockey League treasury figures to be considerably fatter after comments of coaches and players are digested.
"Our play was very encouraging, the way we fought back, at least until the penalty that took us out of the game," said Minnesota Coach Glen Sonmor. "I told everybody on the bench not to touch anybody, because one was coming, and take a look at the one that came.Then wait a couple of minutes and watch Clark Gillies pitchfork Al MacAdam in front of the net.
"I hate to say it about officials, but the crowd obviously does have an influence. You saw that tonight. I think the crowd's effect on the officiating is the biggest part of home-ice advantage."
"It was a . . .call," Broton said. "How can I hook Clark Gillies on one hand? I had one hand on my stick and he's 210 pounds and I'm 165. Lewis had to call something and he made a . . . call."
The Islanders, who received 14 penalties to Minnesota's eight, were not pleased with Lewis' work, either.
"It was a ridiculous number of penalties for a game that wasn't even physical," Potvin said.
Potvin's big goal, his second of the game, came after Butch Goring retrieved his own rebound and fed Potvin a sharp pass at the top of the slot.
Bossy also scored twice and reached 29 playoff points, tying teammate Bryan Trottier's record of last year. Trottier assisted on Bossy's concluding score to extend his playoff scoring streak to 22 games, 15 this year, which broke Bobby Orr's one-season record.
Trottier became involved with Beaupre twice in the final period and displayed a bruise on the bridge of his nose as he said, "I forget why I went after him. He must have made me mad."
"Trottier did punch me in the face after Bossy's last goal," Beaupre said.
"One of their players (Bossy) was accusing Freddie Barrett of cheap shots and I said something and when he didn't stick up for himself, Trottier took it upon himself to stick up for him."
"They seem to allow Trottier to come in after the whistle and bother the kid," Sonmor said. "I've never seen Trottier fight. Maybe he's been waiting for a 5-foot-8, 140-pounder."
The Islander fans had a bad moment when Payne, after scoring the tying goal, was knocked into goalie Bill Smith. Banged in the left elbow, Smith rolled on the ice in pain, but stayed in after treatment.
"He just pinched the elbow a bit," Smith said. "I don't know what hurt more, my pride when the goal went in or my elbow."