Cheevers, who had called Bossy "probably one of the greatest snipers in hockey history," took drastic measures to stop the Islanders' right winger on Thursday. He ordered rookie Left Wing Luc Dufour to cover Bossy everywhere he went. "I asked him if he meant all the time or just when he had the puck," Dufour said afterward. "He said, 'All the time.' " Dufour, who had never before been assigned to shadow a man, stuck to Bossy like adhesive tape, occasionally grabbing onto Bossy's stick when Referee Wally Harris wasn't looking. "It was nothing subtle," Bossy said. "In the first period he could have been called for interference every time he was on the ice. There were no Tiger Williams tactics. It was just good clean interference, if you consider interference clean."
The Islanders scored first in Game 5 on a long, dipping shot by Bob Nystrom, but Boston came storming back with five straight goals in the first two periods. GET MAD AND GET EVEN exhorted one banner hanging from the balcony. POUND THE SUTTER SISTERS another said. The Bruins followed that advice to the letter. When it was all over they had outshot the Islanders 45-22, and left the Garden ringing with chants of "Tuesday night! Tuesday night!" in hopes of a Game 7. Afterward Keith Crowder, who had scuffled twice with the cantankerous Duane Sutter and emerged with scratches on his face, complained, "I haven't had a fight with a girl for a long time. He's got longer fingernails than my wife."
Said suddenly nervous Islander Captain Denis Potvin: "The Bruins aren't a team that doesn't want to go back to Long Island, figuring they can't win anyway. They're the league's first-place team, and if they win one game at a time they might get back in the series."
Which they might have done had they gotten some goaltending from Peeters Saturday night. It's difficult to recall a worse playoff series by a goalie of his caliber. True, he excelled in the two Boston wins, but in its four losses he allowed some atrocious goals that put them right out of the games. The Bruins wouldn't have been so good this season without him, but teams that live by the shield also die by it. And in Game 6, die they did.
With Boston trailing 1-0 early, Peeters misfired a clearing pass behind the net onto the stick of Bryan Trottier, who passed it to Bossy in front for an easy open-net goal. Then, after the Bruins fought back to 2-2, Peeters gave Brent Sutter the short side on a backhand shot. In the first minute of the second period Peeters fanned on a long shot by Bossy, and the rout was on. At the halfway point Bossy added a rebound goal and another off a long, confused scramble during which Peeters lost his stick. Sombreros littered the ice after Bossy's third and fourth goals. "I would have liked a fifth," he said afterward. "I've never had five goals in an NHL game."
For the series the Islanders had scored 30 goals in six games, quite different from the three goals they'd managed against the Bruins during the regular season. "We played like we thought we could go up and down the ice with the Islanders," said Boston General Manager Harry Sinden. "We can't."
The Oilers, however, can, which should make for the best final series in a decade. After eliminating the Bruins, Bossy said: "I heard a Boston fan screaming that we didn't deserve to be here because of the lousy regular season we had. We were sixth overall, but everyone looks at that as lousy. Well, we want to make up for it."
They already have.