The Boston Bruins won by a misleading 4-1 score tonight in the second game of their best-of-seven Stanley Cup semifinal series, evening the series at a game apiece.
Boston's victory margin included two stunning short-handed goals, as well as a goal scored on a delayed penalty. It was also largely based on a exceptional performance by goalie Pete Peeters, who stopped 32 shots, many of them apparent goals.
The defending champion Islanders knew they had let slip a chance to put the Bruins in a serious bind.
"You take away their two shorthanded goals and we're in a 2-1 game," said captain Denis Potvin, who scored the Islanders' only goal. "And we had our chances to score, but every time we either shot high or wide or Peeters made the save. He made the saves when he had to, especially on our breakaways."
"Peeters was sensational," said Bruins Coach Gerry Cheevers. "But you're seeing the two best goaltenders in the league and it doesn't surprise me that you get brilliant performances."
Peeters, who led NHL goalies in the regular season, was at his best in the first period, when the Bruins were badly outplayed and yet emerged with a 2-0 lead.
Mike Krushelnyski scored at the three-minute mark, putting in a 10-footer after Peter McNab sent him a smart setup from behind the net.
Late in the period, Brad Palmer made it 2-0 with a short-handed goal. The play was created by Rick Middleton, who stripped the puck from defenseman Thomas Jonsson in the Boston zone and fed Palmer breaking out in the neutral zone. Palmer, a little-used winger who was spelling Barry Pederson on penalty killing, faked out goalie Billy Smith and scored from a wide angle.
The Bruins offered Peeters more help in the second period, applying more pressure on the Islander net. Nevertheless, Potvin scored on a 45-footer on a power play to cut the lead to 2-1.
At the 15-minute mark, the Islanders went on another power play. But Pederson scored a second short-handed goal, a 45-footer from right point. Pederson waited for teammate Mike O'Connell to skate in front of him before shooting, and Smith was screened.
"The first two periods we got in trouble with bottom-line giveaways," said Cheevers. "They came at us and we reacted without a purpose."
The Bruins were a different team in the third period, pushing the puck into the Islander zone, smothering the Islanders' plays before they developed. Midway through the period, feverish forechecking produced the Bruins' fourth goal.
Winger Mike Gillis kept the puck alive in both corners, passing to the slot. The frustrated Islanders fouled Rick Middleton in front of the net, but the puck was still alive and Middleton kicked it to Pederson, who scored from a flat angle. Pederson's 13th playoff goal tied a club record set by Phil Esposito in 1970.
"I've run out of words for Rick Middleton," said Cheevers. "He's out there in the ultra somewhere."
Play deteriorated after the fourth Boston goal, as the Islanders vented their frustration with marginally legal body checking. Defenseman Gord Lane leveled Krushelnyski with a two-hander; Krushelnyski was helped from the ice but is expected to play Saturday in Game 3.
Asked if the Islanders had kindled a feud, Cheevers replied, "I hope so. We've got to get mad at their guys. We've respected them a little too much."
Conspicuously silent was the Islanders' line of Brent and Duane Sutter and Bob Bourne. It had scored 17 goals in 11 playoff games, including three in the opener Tuesday, but was stopped primarily by the Boston line of McNab, Craig McTavish and Keith Crowder.