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Sunday, April 12, 2020

Road to the Cup - April 12, 1980 -- Isles 6, Los Angeles 0 (Isles win best-of-5 series 3-1)

40 Years Ago Tonight...
By Eric Hornick

Game 4
Isles 6, Los Angeles 0
Throughout the Cup era, former Islander first round picks would play huge roles --from Denis Potvin to Clark Gillies and from Mike Bossy to the Sutter brothers.  Even Paul Boutilier and Steve Tambellini had their moments, and have their names on the trophy to prove it.  

But 40 years ago tonight was the the time for Alex McKendry (yes, Alex McKendry) to shine.  McKendry was a first round pick in 1976, and like the rest of the bottom-third of that first round, had a rather pedestrian NHL career as he played in only 46 regular season games and six playoff games.  It's what he did in the third period of this game that Isles fans should remember.

1978-79 Alex McKendry Game Worn New York Islanders Jersey ...
McKendry scored two goals and added an assist in the third period (all in an 8:29 span) as the Isles blew open a close game for a series-clinching 6-0 win over the Kings at the old Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California.

McKendry, playing his second game of the series, had only four career playoff points, and three were in this period as the Isles completed the first-round series win.

The Scoring:
1st Period
15:05 NYI Garry Howatt (2) Bob Nystrom, Lorne Henning

2nd Period
09:27 NYI PP Bob Bourne (3) Gord Lane, Bob Nystrom

3rd Period
01:46 NYI Alex McKendry (1) John Tonelli
05:22 NYI John Tonelli (2) Alex McKendry, Wayne Merrick
06:17 NYI Butch Goring (2)
10:15 NYI Alex McKendry (2) John Tonelli

The Series:
Game 1: Isles 8, Los Angeles 1
Game 2: Los Angeles 6, Isles 3
Game 3: Isles 4, Los Angeles 3
Game 4: Isles 6, Los Angeles 0
(Isles win series, 3-1)

Bob Bourne and Bryan Trottier had three goals in the series to share the team lead; John Tonelli (2-4-6) and Butch Goring (2-3-5) led the Isles in points...The two players traded for Butch -- Dave Lewis and Billy Harris -- combined for one assist and a -9 rating in the series. .....The Isles outshot Los Angeles 32-20; they outshot the Kings in all four games in the series.  Billy Smith improved to 3-0 in the series and cemented himself as the Isles number one playoff goalie; it was his second career shutout and remains to this day the most one-sided shutout win in Islander history.... Garry Howatt and Dave Langevin fought Steve Carlson and Dean Hopkins with nine minutes to play, following a Langevin spear.  It was the 4th and 5th fight of the 3-game series. ..The 31 goals scored in this series are the most-ever in an Islander 4-game series; at the time it was the third-highest scoring 4-game series in Stanley Cup history.

The Isles would have a few days to get ready for the quarter-finals.  In both 1980 and 1981 the playoff teams were seeded 1-16 and were re-seeded after each round.  The Isles' eventual opponent in round 2 were the Boston Bruins, but they had lost earlier in the evening to fall behind Pittsburgh two games to one.

The Bruins would eventually advance but when the Isles hit Boston Garden ice on April 16th, the Bs would be playing their fourth game in five days.

We'll pick up the story with two remarkable games in Boston.

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