The New York Islanders have turned the first coast-to-coast Stanley Cup final into a nonstop journey to a third straight championship.
Mike Bossy scored two second-period goals to break a 1-1 tie and the Islanders kept the Vancouver Canucks under control the rest of the way tonight to earn a 3-1 victory and sweep the best-of-seven series in four games.
Bossy, whose seven goals tied Jean Beliveau's 1956 record for a Stanley Cup final, had 17 in 19 playoff games and earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs.
Bossy won a car along with the trophy. He also received a car as the MVP of the All-Star Game in Washington Feb. 9.
"I'm trying to get the flat fixed on the first one," Bossy joked afterward. "I'm very happy I won it, though. We're glad to win and keep on winning. That's all we want to do when we step on the ice is win, but the awards and the money are nice, too."
In becoming the first United States-based club to win the Cup three years in a row, the Islanders swept the semifinal and final series, the first team to do so since the Boston Bruins of 1970.
Although the players went through the motions of the usual postgame congratulatory ceremony, there was little sportsmanship on display in the closing minutes, and many of the 16,413 fans booed both the Cup presentation to the Islanders and the announcement of the award to Bossy.
Vancouver captain Stan Smyl was struck in the face by the stick of Islander goalie Bill Smith with 1:37 remaining and afterward the Canucks' Tiger Williams took a run at Bossy and exchanged slashes with Bryan Trottier, no penalties being assessed in any of the altercations.
Smith, as is his custom, shunned the traditional postgame handshakes, but Williams and Trottier embraced and, presumably, resolved their differences.
It was the New York power play that was the difference in the game, as both of Bossy's goals followed foolish fouls by Vancouver. The Islanders, No. 1 in the NHL on extra-man plays during the regular season, scored on eight of 20 opportunities during the playoffs.
"The power play killed us tonight," said Vancouver Coach Roger Neilson. "We took six penalties to their two (actually three) and you can't play a third of a period a man short against a tough team like the Islanders, the way we were hit in the second period."
The puck wound up in the Vancouver net four times in the second period, as referee Wally Harris disallowed two, but there was no question about the pair Bossy put behind goalie Richard Brodeur.
The first nullification occurred after Harris signalled a penalty on Canuck Darcy Rota for cross-checking Gord Lane, a followup to some earlier shenanigans between the two. A New York shot was deflected high in the air and a Vancouver player batted the puck into the net, but Harris ruled that play had stopped because the Canucks had possession.
Two seconds before Rota's penalty was due to expire, Bossy slid a rebound behind Brodeur, the fourth shot in a rapid-fire sequence that ended with two Canucks, Gerry Minor and Harold Snepsts, playing without sticks.
When Smyl put his stick in Stefan Persson's face, he went to the box for high sticking and Bossy made it 3-1. Trottier raced down the left wing, took Persson's pass with one skate on the blueline and passed to Bossy on his right for a 35-foot shot.
Before the period ended, Bob Nystrom put a backhander past Brodeur. Islander Wayne Merrick was in the crease and, although it appeared he had been shoved in by Smyl, the goal was washed out. There was, however, no interference penalty against Merrick, which is customary in such situations.
The Islanders virtually silenced the enthusiastic, towel-waving Vancouver fans with a masterful defensive effort that limited the Canucks to one goal in the two games here, Smyl's rebound that created a 1-1 tie late in the first period.
"We won our last nine games, and we've won three Cups in a row; I don't know what we can do before we're ranked with the top teams ever," said Smith, the first goaltender to win 15 playoff games in one year.
"I sincerely hope people never take it for granted and get tired of seeing us win," said Trottier, who wore Smith's jersey and a big smile. Truly, for the Islanders, this final series was a laugher.