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It was a 50-50 proposition
Larry Brooks
February 02, 1981
With time awasting, Mike Bossy scored the goal that tied the Rocket's mark
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February 02, 1981

It Was A 50-50 Proposition

With time awasting, Mike Bossy scored the goal that tied the Rocket's mark

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Simmer didn't put a single shot on Boston Goaltender Jim Craig during the first 37 minutes but then scored goal No. 47 on a Kings power play. Like the great majority of Simmer's goals, this one was a chip shot from the edge of the crease. So, too, was his second goal—No. 48—against Craig early in the third period. "I really didn't think he'd get four goals when I tuned in," Bossy said, "but then I began to wonder."

As it turned out, Simmer scored one more goal—No. 49—with a second to play in the game, depositing the puck in an empty net after the Bruins had yanked Craig for an extra attacker. "I'm disappointed I came so close and didn't make it," Simmer said, "but getting 50 in 50 games had never been uppermost in my mind. If Mike can do it, more power to him."

For two periods Saturday night, though, Bossy played, in his own word, "terrible." Arbour gave him extra ice time, and Islander teammates spent more time looking to set him up than they did worrying about the Nordiques. The result: zilch. Not even one shot by Bossy on Quebec Goaltender Ron Grahame.

"I wasn't doing anything right," Bossy said. "It was like my hands were taped together. I was thinking I wasn't going to get it, not even a shot. I had the feeling I was never going to score again. And the thing is, I was the one who had made such a big thing out of this. I was so afraid of coming back in the room after the game without the record. I would've been embarrassed. But then I realized that the biggest thing was not to give anyone the satisfaction of saying I didn't try."

That bit of soul-searching behind him, Bossy returned to the ice for the final period. And he began to regain the spontaneity that distinguishes his game: the dash, the verve, the on-his-feet intelligence. Suddenly he was moving freely without the puck, circling, looking for holes. He sprayed a flurry of shots at Grahame during his first three shifts. "He was so determined," said Islander Right Wing Bob Nystrom.

Still, Bossy hadn't scored as the clock ticked down to the final five minutes. "Every time I came back to the bench," he said, "the guys would tell me not to worry, that there was plenty of time, that I could do it."

Five minutes and 15 seconds remained when he came out for the Islanders' seventh power play. Earlier, Bossy, who'd scored 21 power-play goals this season, had spent better than eight minutes on the ice during power plays but came away with nothing. Now, Bryan Trottier, behind the Quebec net, sent the puck along the boards to Defenseman Stefan Persson. Persson spotted Bossy, snapped him a pass—and Bossy, cutting in front of the net, whipped a backhand shot past Grahame for No. 49.

"I'd just about given up," said Bossy, "but when I got that one, I was only beginning."

Bossy's goal gave the Islanders a 5-4 lead, and now he, his teammates and all 15,008 spectators in the Coliseum were of one mind: empty net. "When we came down the ice after that," Bossy said, "I was thinking, 'Don't score, guys.' " His teammates felt the same way. "We just didn't know what to do," said Potvin. After a minute on the bench, a 20-second shift and another minute on the bench, Bossy returned with 1:50 to play. As the Islanders brought the puck into the Nordiques' zone, Bossy swerved for the left lane. Quebec Defenseman Dave Pichette tried to clear the puck, but New York's John Tonelli deflected it to Trottier near the right boards. Bossy, alone in the left circle, hollered.

"I don't think Bryan saw me," Bossy said.

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