When the Flyers arrived for Saturday night's game, they weren't bubbling with joy either, having just lost to Buffalo 3-2 at the Spectrum. "We've talked a lot about the fact that we haven't beaten one of the top clubs yet," said Defenseman Joe Watson. "And we know all about our disgraceful performance in the playoffs last year when Boston beat us four straight. So this game with the Islanders really means a lot. We've got to find out a few things about ourselves."
Predictably, bodies started flying the instant Referee Bruce Hood dropped the puck. The Islanders dominated the first two periods and led the Flyers 2-0. The New York forwards pounded away at the Philadelphians at every chance, and Hart—one of the smallest skaters on the ice—continually chopped down Flyers twice his size. Potvin stopped trying to play like the second Bobby Orr and, for a change, played like the first Denis Potvin, body-checking viciously and passing the puck out of his zone, not skating with it Orr style. Bossy fed Trottier for a first-period power-play goal, only the fourth such score for New York in 39 opportunities, and Billy Harris whizzed a 45-footer past Bernie Parent in the second period.
In the third period, though, the Islanders reverted to their early-season form. They forgot to check, forgot to hit. The Flyers struck quickly, converting a poor New York clearing pass into one goal and tying the score at 2-2 when Dailey blasted a 50-footer through Smith's pads. Led by Dailey, the Flyers befuddled the Islanders in the final period. Smith's artistry repeatedly saved New York, and as the clock ticked away it was obvious that Arbour was happy to escape with the 2-2 tie. In fact, rather than go for broke with the high-scoring Trottier-Bossy-Gillies line when there was a face-off in Philadelphia's end in the final minute, Arbour opted for a safe checking line.
When the game was over, Hart had a footlong slash across his neck, courtesy of Clarke's stick. Under Clarke's left eye was a long mark, courtesy of a chop by Smith that had emptied both benches at the end of the second period. "I know it was only a tie but I really think we've turned ourselves around and will play the way we have to," said Hart. Countered Clarke, "We proved we could go on the road and come back against a good team."
So, as the checkup ended, the Canadiens were in perfect health, the Flyers were recovering and the Islanders were still in sick bay—and Guy Lapointe was alive and well in Montreal.