BOSTON — The way the Kings saw it, their game against the Boston Bruins Saturday was lost for them in a yellow hallway between the second and third periods.
That was when Boston Coach Terry O'Reilly launched a tirade against referee Ron Fournier outside the officials' dressing room.
That seemed to make an impression on Fournier. The Kings had a 5-3 lead at the start of the third period, but after 30 minutes in penalties were called against them (versus 12 minutes against Boston), the Bruins emerged with an 8-6 win in front of 11,167 frenzied fans in the Boston Garden.
"He was intimidated by Terry O'Reilly, who yelled at him at the end of the second period," King Coach Mike Murphy said of the referee. "He (Fournier) went out in the third period, determined to make calls against us. He wasn't up for the game, you could see that."
Bitter words poured from the Kings after a bitter loss. It was a game they thought they should have won. The Kings had a 3-1 lead in the first period, a 5-2 lead in the second and a 6-4 lead in the third.
Boston never stopped fighting back.
Few of the Kings could agree on the game's turning point, but all pointed to Fournier as the manufacturer of the Bruins' momentum late in the third period.
It began when King center Bob Carpenter was pulled down in the Kings' slot by Cam Neely.
While the Kings waited for a hooking call, Neely scored for Boston.
"It was so obvious, especially in your own zone," Carpenter said. "You're not going to take a dive when that happens in your zone, so I got back up real quick.
"I asked him (Fournier) about it. He said, 'The guy was on the ice when he hooked you.' I said, 'What's the difference? A hook's a hook.' If he was on the ice, then he got up pretty fast to score a goal."
Neely's goal at 4:37 cut the Kings' lead to one, and even though Bernie Nicholls scored 10 seconds later, Nicholls thought Neely's goal was demoralizing to the Kings.
"That cost us and it cost us big," he said.
Nicholls' goal made it 6-4 and gave the Kings some margin of comfort. However, with the third period on its way to being as wide open as the first, even a two-goal lead was not safe. As it happened, six goals were scored in the third period, as many as had been scored in the first. The difference was that five of the six goals were Boston's.
Ken Linseman scored for Boston at 8:16 to cut the King lead back to one.
Then came another incident involving Carpenter, with a twist. During a King power play, Carpenter hooked a Bruin. This time, a call was made.
Since Boston had possession of the puck, the call was delayed. Nevertheless, some Kings stood, waiting for play to be stopped. In the meantime, Mike Milbury scored a short-handed goal on a breakaway to tie the game.
"That hurt us," Murphy said. "We had three or four guys who stopped playing on that goal. They saw the referee's hand go up. You can't (stop playing)."
It was only Milbury's fifth goal in 67 games, and it was exactly the boost Boston needed.
It appeared that the game would at least go into overtime, but penalties struck again.
King defenseman Steve Duchesne and Bruin winger Geoff Courtnall were called for roughing at 18:39. It was a call that Bob Bourne and Jim Fox of the Kings did not agree with.
Bourne said he was "as mad as I've been all year" when he raced toward Fournier with his stick held menacingly above his head. After Bourne chopped his stick into the boards, he was given a 10-minute misconduct, as was Fox, who apparently said something Fournier disliked.
Bourne said he was wrong to do what he did, but frustration had gotten the better of him.
"I think he (Fournier) cost us two points and I don't mind saying so," Bourne said. "They could do anything they wanted in the third period. He (Fournier) was completely intimidated. I don't know the guy, he might be a nice guy off the ice. But the guy cost us two points."
The game deteriorated to near-chaos in the waning seconds. It was at that point--with 29 seconds left in the game and the score still tied at 6-6--that defenseman Raymond Bourque let loose with a slap shot from the left point. The puck appeared to be deflected into the net, surprising King goaltender Rollie Melanson.
The stunned Kings looked on as the Bruins began a celebration on the ice. There was more to celebrate for the Bruins. The Kings pulled Melanson for the extra attacker, and, with two seconds remaining, Rick Middleton scored an empty-net goal to give the Bruins the 8-6 win.
The wildness of the third period erased what had been a close-checking game from both teams.
The Kings took a 4-2 lead after the first period on goals from Jimmy Carson, who had two, Bryan Erickson and Sean McKenna. Neely and Charlie Simmer scored for Boston.
Luc Robitaille scored in the second period for the Kings and Simmer got his second for the Bruins.
The last time the Kings won in Boston Garden was Jan. 24, 1980. That was when Charlie Simmer, who had three points for Boston Saturday, was a King. . . . The Bruins pulled goaltender Bill Ranford after he allowed four goals off 17 shots in the first period. Doug Keans played the last two periods for Boston. . . . Bruin defenseman Wade Campbell suffered a bruised left knee and left the game in the third period for X-rays. . . . The Kings play Hartford today. The Whalers beat the Minnesota North Stars, 5-1, Saturday night.