A goal in the last few seconds of a period can destroy a team's morale. In the case of the New York Islanders, it acts as a spur.
Lars Lindgren, on a sensational setup by Thomas Gradin, scored with eight seconds left in the second period tonight to give the Vancouver Canucks a 3-2 lead over the Islanders. New York, however, bounced back with two goals in the first 79 seconds of the third period and went on to beat the Canucks, 6-4, for a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup final.
The Islanders were aided by foolish Vancouver penalties as they collected three power-play goals for the second straight game. Another score was shorthanded and, with the Canucks lacking in depth, it is obvious they cannot afford to continue the parade to the penalty box that occurred tonight. Referee Ron Wicks assessed the Canucks 13 minors and the Islanders 15, with each receiving two misconducts.
"We took some bad penalties," said Vancouver Coach Roger Neilson. "We weren't as smart as we should have been. We're going to have to be smarter and more alert and not be suckered into penalties. Three times we got single penalties while we were on the power play. A lot of times we had guys in the box we couldn't afford."
A fracas during a Vancouver power play late in the second period eventually proved costly. After he and Islander Gord Lane were given misconducts, Canuck Curt Fraser reached over a linesman to punch Lane and was tagged with an extra minor.
Fraser was still serving the two-minute sentence when Bob Bourne scored from the inner edge of the right-wing circle at 0:32 of the third period, converting a Stefan Persson pass for his ninth playoff goal.
"The goal that hurt us most was that one at the start of the third period," Neilson said. "That gave them a quick pick-me-up."
The 15,230 fans were still saluting that tying goal when Duane Sutter connected from the left-wing circle at 1:19, after brother Brent had outmuscled Canuck defender Doug Halward for the puck behind the goal line.
Gerry Minor's first Stanley Cup goal, a 35-footer through Islander goalie Bill Smith, pulled Vancouver even at 2:27, but another foolish penalty proved the Canucks' undoing.
Tiger Williams, renewing acquaintances with Smith, exchanged slashes with the goalie and then jumped on him. As a result, Williams was given two minors, Smith one, and the Islanders' power-play unit, No. 1 during the regular season, utilized the advantage to snap the tie.
"Wicks should have called it even," Williams complained. "Smith initiated it. He tried to gouge my eyes out."
"Tiger definitely was trying to hurt me," Smith responded. "Both teams are trying to intimidate the goaltenders, but Tiger doesn't scare me."
Regardless, it was one more Islander power play and when Vancouver goalie Richard Brodeur went down on a Tomas Jonsson shot that sailed past the cage, Bryan Trottier was able to lift the rebound into the net.
That occurred with 12:42 remaining and with 5:50 on the clock, Bob Nystrom wrapped up the decision with a drive from the slot, after John Tonelli had pried the puck away from Lindgren.
Brodeur kept the Canucks in contention during a first period in which the Islanders had a 15-6 edge in shots. The only goal came as Billy Carroll converted a shorthanded two-on-one break with Bourne, who started it by picking off a Lars Molin pass.
The man in the box was Denis Potvin, caught tripping for the second time. Potvin responded to Wicks' signal by throwing his stick high in the air, but he received no additional misconduct penalty and said afterward, "I think Wicks called an excellent game."
The Canucks took a 2-1 lead on power-play scores by Gradin and Ivan Boldirev. But Fraser charged into Trottier along the boards and on the subsequent extra-man chance, Mike Bossy netted his 14th playoff goal.
The Canucks went ahead eight seconds before the period ended, while each team had three skaters on the ice. Gradin cut outside defenseman Ken Morrow, faked a shot that had Smith diving and instead skated behind the net. He waited until Lars Lindgren cut down the slot and fed him for a shot that had only Potvin defending in the crease.
It gave the Canucks a big lift as they went to the dressing room. But, as usual, the Islanders turned it into a big letdown.