Albertan Brent Sutter scored two goals and brother Duane earned four assists tonight as the New York Islanders easily defeated the Edmonton Oilers, 6-3, to go two games up in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup final.
The Sutter family's biggest moment was obscured, however, by another of those ugly incidents that annually tarnish the Stanley Cup.
The only thing most folks will recall about this contest was a confrontation between Oiler center Wayne Gretzky and Islander goalie Billy Smith, sticks raised like fencers awaiting the starting command.
The ugliness appeared with a little over two minutes to play and the game obviously out of Edmonton's reach.
Gretzky tried to come around behind the New York net and Smith swung his stick, as he did to Glenn Anderson Tuesday, and caught Gretzky in the leg.
Gretzky fell, then rose and skated up to Smith, stick raised in a most unusual gesture for hockey's most notable gentleman.
No sticks were swung and, after other players poured in and the inevitable shoving began, Gretzky skated over to referee Wally Harris, demanding a penalty call that Harris indicated was not coming. However, after conferring with his linesmen, Harris assessed Smith a major penalty for slashing.
The crowd of 17,498, already aroused by Edmonton papers calling Smith "Public Enemy No. 1" on the front page, began to chant "Semenko" and Coach Glen Sather responded by sending the NHL's resident tough guy, Dave Semenko, onto the ice.
Semenko stood in front of the Islander net but it was Dave Lumley who skated in with Edmonton's retaliatory gesture.
Lumley speared Smith in the chest, sending the goalie, his glove and his stick flying in different directions. Lumley also was given a major penalty, for spearing.
Afterward, Gretzky said, with a gesture of hopelessness, that he considered Smith's slash "accidental.
"We've tried for years to cut this out, and obviously it doesn't work," Gretzky said.
"Why fight it? It's not going to help anybody, and it won't do the league any good, so what can you do?
"Billy accidentally slashed me in the leg. Let it go at that," Gretzky said. "What bothers me most is people say he didn't mean to hurt you, he didn't hit you in the head. Well, my knee is as important to me as my nose."
There was a taste of what was to develop in the second period, when Lumley banged into Smith and sent him sprawling into the net.
Islander Coach Al Arbour immediately sent Gord Lane into the game and Lane sent Gretzky sprawling. There was no penalty call in either case.
Arbour felt the whole incident was the result of Sather's comments on the Anderson incident, when Sather demanded that the NHL suspend Smith.
"I think the whole thing on Billy Smith was started by Glen Sather," Arbour said. "That's a normal play for a goaltender and it was only a mild tap that hit him in the pants. If any other goaltender did that, nothing would be said. As it is, nothing happens until Gretzky goes over and complains.
"That was deliberate spearing on Smitty (by Lumley) and it should be a suspension, but I'm not going crawling on my hands and knees to the ref. This is ridiculous and it takes away from the game, but it doesn't bother us. I just hope it takes away from them."
The Islanders obviously are in control, with the next two games at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday and Tuesday. The Oilers had a brief glimmer of hope in the first period, when Semenko finally proved Smith was beatable with a 40-foot shot.
Not long after, Jari Kurri's long pass sent Gretzky in on a breakaway. He had Smith beaten--the puck was past when the goalie raised his glove--but the puck caromed off the crossbar and into the seats.
"If Wayne had scored on that breakaway when it was 1-0, it would have been 2-0 and changed the whole momentum," Sather said.
"Hockey is a game of inches and a couple of inches lower, it's a different hockey game. But they come back with a couple of goals and turn it around."
Tomas Jonsson, Bob Nystrom and Mike Bossy all beat Edmonton goalie Andy Moog on stoppable shots before the first period ended.
Smith let a drive by Kurri carom off his pad and into the net early in the second period, but Bob Bourne and Brent Sutter scored 38 seconds apart and the game was all over except for the brawling.
Gretzky earned two assists and set one-year playoff records for points (36) and assists (24).