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Smith, for his part, was thinking: Stay on your feet; wait for him to make the first move. Naslund skated in, unconvincingly faked a shot and popped a backhand into Smith's pads. Smith made the stop look embarrassingly easy. Bossy scored a minute and a half later, and the Islanders bottled up the Canadien attack the rest of the way to win 3-1. Significantly, they killed nine of 10 Montreal power plays, one of which came after a five-minute boarding penalty on Trottier, who bounded at Gainey like a kangaroo while his back was turned. The hit drove the Canadien captain Down Under, leaving him dazed, bloody and, it was eventually learned, with a dislocated right shoulder. Canadien defenseman Rick Green predicted that the repercussions of Trottier's cheap shot would carry over through the rest of the series. "The guys in this room won't forget it," he said.
And they didn't. For the last two games of the series, few Canadiens would venture near the boards without first looking over their shoulders. Penney, for his part, took to counting the hairs on the back of Gillies's neck, so intimate did they become. Asked why he didn't haul off and whack the 6'3", 210 pound Gillies in the ankles with his stick—as Smith would have happily done in his place—Penney revealed that before Game 5, played in Montreal's Forum, both teams were warned by referee Bob Myers that he would brook no monkey business from or against either goalie. Consequently, just over two minutes into the game, Smith gave Myers a theatrical death spiral when Montreal's Ryan Walter grazed him ("He elbowed me!" protests Smith, "Would I lie to you?"). On the resulting power play Trottier scored to give the Islanders a lead they would never relinquish. Less than six minutes later Brent Sutter beat Steve Shutt—who looked like a doorman at the Ritz Carlton, gracefully bowing as Sutter passed—one-on-one to score the winning goal when the Isles were shorthanded. And from there on it was Smitty-bar-the-door, the teams trading third-period goals to make the final 3-1 Islanders.
"It was like a big elephant against a small cat," a Montreal cab driver said eloquently the next morning. The intimidated Canadiens had all but surrendered the slot and the boards to the Islanders, choosing instead to dart felinely about the perimeters.
The intimidation showed in a hundred different ways in Game 6 in the Coliseum. Time and again the Canadien forwards pulled up when crossing the blue line, content to slap long shots, which Smith turned away easily, rather than drive for the slot. They passed the puck too soon and too often, changed on the fly slowly and checked with their sticks rather than their bodies. The Islanders had worn them out. Gillies, who this year had struggled through his worst regular season ever, getting only 12 goals, opened the scoring at 4:51 of the first period with his seventh goal of the playoffs, taking a nice pass from Trottier and then waiting until Penney had collapsed before flipping it into the top corner one second after an Islander power play had expired. It marked the fourth game in a row in which the Isles had gotten the jump on the Canadiens because of a power play, which effectively negated the patient checking game that had gotten the Habs wins in the first two games of the series.
Bossy made it 2-zip less than three minutes later, stealing the puck from Montreal's Bobby Smith and uncorking a monstrous drive into the top shelf past Penney's catching glove. "That was the old Mike Bossy shot," said a glowing Arbour. And that was all the cushion the Islanders would need, as they held the Canadiens to one goal for the third straight game, winning 4-1. Bossy added his eighth goal of the playoffs in the third period—tying Flatley for the team goal-scoring lead and giving him 77 career postseason goals, two behind Jean Beliveau and five short of Richard on the all-time list.
Islander veterans have learned that it's the toughest team in the NHL that wins the Cup. The Isles were the toughest again last week. Of course, toughness has nothing to do with fighting—well, maybe just a little—it's the willingness to stand in front of the net while being cross-checked from behind, to go into a corner with a defenseman bearing down on you and not give up the puck, to force your way into the slot when there are nothing but elbows and sticks to welcome you. It's Al Arbour-style hockey, playoff hockey, and it's the reason the Islanders will beat the Edmonton Oilers and win their fifth straight Cup. Five games? Six games? It doesn't matter. The Islanders will win it. As Montreal coach Jacques Lemaire said Saturday night, "They'll win it because they're the best hockey team in America. They were too strong for us. They're good all over."
But Jacques, are they as good as the Canadiens were in '79 when you, Larry Robinson, Guy Lafleur and Ken Dryden were in your prime? "That's hard to say," Lemaire said with a smile. "But they're the best I've seen lately."