Sather was right,
and Game 3 became the turning point of the series. After a first-period Gillies
goal put New York ahead, Lowe went in on Smith down the left side. Instead of
shooting, Lowe risked cutting in on the goal, teasing Smith with the puck and
drawing it around him when the goalie lunged. Lowe slid the puck into an empty
net. That move, in several different forms, would be repeated through the rest
of the playoffs as Smith began blocking shadows and moving on shots not
With the Islanders
up 2-1 in the second period, Messier—later named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner,
i.e., MVP of the playoffs—scored a monster goal, "the biggest of the
series," Lowe would say later. After taking a breakout pass, Messier, one
of the strongest and fastest Oiler forwards, bore down on veteran defenseman
Denis Potvin and rookie defenseman Gord Dineen.
"Who would you
pick? Me or Potvin?" Dineen said later.
the 21-year-old Dineen, faking him outside, cutting back inside, and beat Smith
with a 20-footer to the short side. Speed kills, and the Oilers seemed to have
Coffey added goals—both on rebounds—17 seconds apart in the final minute of the
second period. Anderson scored because that well-known mucker Gretzky waded
into the right corner with Potvin and actually won a battle for the puck.
"When I'm not
scoring I can contribute in other ways," said Gretzky, who was doing more
work than usual in the combat zones.
made it 6-2 Oilers at 5:52 of the third period, Islander coach Al Arbour yanked
Smith in favor of Rollie Melanson. "We want Billy!" screamed the crowd,
to whom Smith has been such a symbol of frustration for the previous four
"I hate Billy
Smith so much that when they pulled him from the goal I mooned the television
set," Oiler fan Rob Sgambaro told The Edmonton Journal.
In the other end,
Fuhr was back in the form he'd shown in the first game. He charged out to
challenge the shooters and though that opened up some angles to the sides, the
Oiler defensemen, especially Lowe, didn't let many Islanders get behind or
beside their goalie so the open goalmouth didn't become a liability. However,
when Fuhr went after a loose puck in the left corner in the second period, he
was knocked down by Islander center Pat LaFontaine, who had been knocked into
Fuhr by Oiler Pat Hughes. Fuhr bruised his right shoulder, and though he
finished that period and started the third, he was replaced by backup Andy Moog
with 7:34 to go, and didn't play again in the series.
"Our big guns
are out and firing now," said Oiler forward Dave Lumley with a smile after
the game. But near him in the dressing room a more serious Paul Coffey stared
at photographs, taped to a door, of Bobby Orr, Jean Beliveau and Potvin holding
the Stanley Cup. "We're a step closer, but nowhere nearer," he said
respectfully, acutely aware that a 2-1 lead over the Islanders didn't give the
Oilers a lock on the Cup.