BOSTON — On the night the lights went out in Boston Garden, the dim hopes of the Boston Bruins remained flickering for at least another 48 hours.
That was about the only good news for the Bruins as a power failure at the Boston Garden Tuesday night forced postponement of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finalsbetween the Bruins and the Edmonton Oilers.
The Oilers, looking to complete a sweep of the best-of-seven series, had just tied the score, 3-3, on a goal by Craig Simpson at 16 minutes 37 seconds of the second period when the electricity went out.
Citing National Hockey League bylaws, NHL President John Ziegler announced two hours later that the game will be replayed, if necessary, at the end of the series as Game 7, at Boston on June 2.
A new Game 4, Ziegler announced after meeting with representatives of both teams, will be played in its entirety Thursday night at Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton, Canada, where the Oilers can end the series and win the NHL championship for the second straight season and the fourth time in five years.
"I don't think anything is unfair when you have rules that govern what should happen," Ziegler said. "I'm certain the Bruins, particularly the way they were playing tonight, would have preferred to finish this game tonight, but an act of God has changed that, so we must follow our bylaws."
If the series continues beyond Thursday night, Game 5 would be played at Boston Saturday and Game 6 at Edmonton Monday or Tuesday.
"I'm not saying we're happy with it, but we're a member of this league and we must live with it," Bruin General Manager Harry Sinden said. "The bylaw really told us what we had to do. It seems to me it was probably put in by some of the old-timers in the league to prevent someone from pulling a switch.
"Maybe we should examine it. . . . I can't really comment on whether it should or shouldn't be changed. We don't want to feel sorry for ourselves. Certainly, it's something we'll never forget."
The Bruins overcame a 2-0 deficit in the game, which was played in a fog that resulted from a temperature of more than 80 degrees in the building. The game was delayed several times as the players skated in circles in an attempt to clear the fog, which was particularly heavy in the corners.
Play had not resumed following Simpson's goal when the electricity failed at 9:32 p.m., EDT, and emergency power was turned on.
At 10:07, the lights came back on without the help of a generator, and several players returned to the ice. However, almost all of the crowd had been evacuated, a league spokesman said, for safety reasons.
Larry Moulter, president of the Boston Garden, was among those who walked out onto the ice and waved fans out of the stands about 15 minutes after the power failed. The power failure prohibited a public-address announcement to evacuate the 60-year-old building.
Ziegler said the loss of electricity occurred when a 4,000-volt switch overloaded on a transformer outside the building, tripping another switch and shutting down the main power in the building.
Corrider lights with power supplied by Boston Edison Co. remained illuminated, allowing the crowd to exit.
Ziegler, who met with officials of both teams in the office of Bruin President Bill Hassett in a building adjacent to the arena, said several options were considered, including replaying the game today at Boston.
Games 1 and 2 of the National Basketball Assn. Eastern Conference finals between the Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons are scheduled tonight and Thursday night at the Boston Garden.
"We reviewed a number of possibilities, all of which were imperfect," Ziegler said. "Fortunately, the two teams realize we must follow our bylaws. When we looked at the bylaws, they control the situation. It's not a matter of the two teams agreeing."
The improbable turn of events gave the Oilers an opportunity to win the championship on their home ice, where they are 10-0 in the playoffs this season and where they won NHL titles in 1984, 1985 and 1987.
"In order for us to survive in the playoffs, we have to win in their building, anyway," Bruin Coach Terry O'Reilly said. "Even if we had won tonight, it would be 3-1 going into their building."
Ziegler said that individual statistics from the game will stand.