It was a war of attrition and the Washington Capitals won it. Mike Gartner came out from behind the New York Islanders' net and shoved the puck past goalie Kelly Hrudey at 1:23 of a second overtime period to give the Capitals a 2-1 victory last night before 17,993 at Capital Centre.
The Islanders were still on the ice screaming at referee Don Koharski long after the Capitals had departed, insisting that Greg Adams had interfered with Hrudey.
New York Coach Al Arbour pushed Koharski and was assessed "a game misconduct penalty under rule 67 (b) for striking an official," according to supervisor of officials Frank Udvari. The rule calls for "a substantial fine," but it seems unlikely that Arbour will be banned from the third game of the playoffs, set for Saturday at Nassau Coliseum.
The Capitals will carry a 2-0 lead into that contest, with both games decided in overtime. Washington won Wednesday, 4-3, on Alan Haworth's goal at 2:28 of the first extra period.
Last night's game was the longest ever played by either team. For more than 81 minutes, the only goals were produced by Washington's Lou Franceschetti, at 5:44 of the first period, and New York's Bryan Trottier, at 7:41 of the third.
The end came after Bob Carpenter gave the puck to Gartner, who skated around the Islanders net, came out in front and shot the puck between Hrudey and the post at the goalie's right. Hrudey was obviously off-balance, after Adams had shoved him, with some impetus from New York defender Kevin Dineen.
"Koharski said he allowed the goal because No. 2 of the Islanders (Dineen) took Adams into the crease where Hrudey was and any goal scored because of the actions of a defensive player is legal," Udvari said.
Koharski skated to the penalty box to report the goal and was besieged by Arbour and most of the Islanders, except for Ken Morrow, who was waving his stick at a fan near the Islanders' bench. That was when Arbour pushed Koharski.
"You watch the replay and you'll know where we stand with the league officials," Arbour said before slamming the door to his dressing room, with a few epithets to newsmen to stay away.
"It's a double standard," screamed New York General Manager Bill Torrey.
Both Arbour and sub goalie Bill Smith swore at Udvari before accompanying him and Torrey to the Telscreen booth to watch the replay.
"You saw it -- I don't have to tell you what they did," said Hrudey, who was participating in his first Stanley Cup game. "You saw it on the replay."
Adams insisted that he had been tied up with Dineen when both were carried into the crease.
"Mike broke wide and I just broke for the net, which is standard procedure," Adams said. "I got tied up by their defense, which is a common occurrence, and we both got bumped into the crease. We were both tied up when the puck went in the net."
"Adams was coming toward the net and I got a piece of him and pushed him toward the side," Dineen said. "I pushed him off to the side but he just came back into Kelly. The referee said I pushed him into Kelly, but I don't think I did."
As for Gartner, the hero of the long, long evening, he smiled and said, "I got the puck and skated around the net and I was just going to try to put it in front. But I saw that Greg Adams had taken the defenseman out and Kelly Hrudey was not quite flush with the post. I saw a space between Hrudey and the post and I just tucked it in on the short side."
Gartner scored on Washington's 41st shot. The Capitals launched all three shots of the second overtime and had an 11-7 edge in the 20-minute extra period that preceded it.
Al Jensen, bypassed for Pat Riggin on Wednesday, got his chance in the Washington net last night, as Coach Bryan Murray had promised, and performed brilliantly.
Jensen made point-blank stops on Trottier, Duane Sutter, Brent Sutter, Patrick Flatley, Bob Bourne and Anders Kallur. He also benefited from two occasions when rookie Roger Kortko had him down and lost control of the puck.
The New York goal, after the Capitals had nursed a 1-0 lead for 42 minutes, came when Jensen blocked a shot by Mike Bossy, lost sight of the puck and turned right while Trottier raced in at his left to knock the puck into the net.
"I didn't know where it was," Jensen said. "I knew it was behind me somewhere. I turned the wrong way."
In the first period, Bob Nystrom lined a shot that struck Jensen's birdcage, leaving a welt on his forehead, and caromed off the crossbar.
"I was just stunned for a second," said Jensen, who has seen limited action because of injuries and admitted that "I was getting a little tired. I was just trying to get my body in front of the shots. That's what playoff hockey is all about. You know the game will end sometime and you'll get your rest."
Franceschetti's goal was set up by Bengt Gustafsson, who lifted the puck from Duane Sutter, exchanged passes with Gartner and then found Franceschetti free on the left wing. Franceschetti held the puck until Hrudey moved out, then slid it past.
It was the first Stanley Cup goal for Franceschetti, who has only six regular-season goals but is the oldest Capital in point of service, having joined the organization in 1978.
Gartner's winning goal helped Bob Gould sleep better. Only three seconds were left in the first overtime when Gould sent a backhander off the crossbar after Doug Jarvis won a faceoff in the New York end.
"I was a little disappointed," Gould said in classic understatement. "It was so close and so far away. I was just shooting to the net and I got away a good shot. I surprised myself. I was in tight and had to dig it out of some skates and it was maybe a harder shot than I expected."
Unlike Wednesday, when 25 penalties were called, Koharski whistled only nine, with none in the overtime, despite many opportunities. New York's Tomas Jonsson departed with a charley horse after a no-call trip by Franceschetti, and Washington's Bengt Gustafsson was slowed by a no-call hook by Trottier.
The crowd was 137 short of a sellout, the first noncapacity crowd in the Capitals' brief history of eight home playoff contests.