Remember the Kansas City Scouts? They were a National Hockey League expansion team a decade back. Probably their biggest victory was in December, 1975, over the Montreal Canadiens, then the dominant force in the sport.
Although the Canadiens have tailed off in recent seasons, the Scouts franchise, during five seasons in Colorado and now in its third as the New Jersey Devils, never beat Montreal again----until Saturday.
Paul Gagne took a pass from Dave Lewis and scored with less than 10 minutes remaining at East Rutherford, N.J. to give the Devils a 5-4 victory over the Canadiens. Since that win at Kansas City, the Canadiens had piled up 16 consecutive victories over the team.
Kansas City received the franchise the same season Washington did. While the Capitals became respectable a couple of seasons ago and are now a legitimate contender for the championship, the Devils are struggling to gain respectability.
Last season they won only 17 of 80 games and were never a threat for a playoff berth in a league that eliminates only five teams from postseason play.
The victory over the Canadiens is further indication that the Devils are beginning to merit consideration. They are no longer an easy source for two points for most visitors.
Doug Sulliman scored twice as the Devils overcame a 3-2 deficit to improve their record to 13-21-4. After 38 games last season, they were 7-29-2. They did not win their 13th game last season until their 50th game.
By this time a year ago, the Devils were already out of the playoff picture.
Philadelphia 6, St. Louis 3--Rookie Rick Tocchet knocked in a rebound and assisted on two other goals at St. Louis to enable the Flyers to move into a tie for first with Washington in the Patrick Division. The Flyers and Capitals both have 51 points, but the Capitals have played one more game.
The Flyers got another big game from goaltender Pelle Lindbergh, who stopped 32 shots and gave the Blues only one goal until the Flyers built a 5-1 lead in the middle of the third period.
Buffalo 7, New York Islanders 3--When Phil Housley and Mike Foligno scored on the first two shots of the second period at Uniondale, N.Y., it gave the Sabres a 5-1 lead and they coasted to their seventh consecutive victory.
The Sabres, 9-1-5 in their last 15 outings, handed the slumping Islanders their fourth loss in the last six games. The Sabres peppered Billy Smith for five goals in 26 minutes, handing him his third loss in a row. Smith was replaced by Kelly Hrudey after Foligno's goal.
The victory put the Sabres only five points behind Montreal.
Quebec 8, Pittsburgh 3--The Nordiques are almost as hot as the Sabres and remained just one point behind them. In this game at Pittsburgh, Marian and Peter Stastny scored goals 31 seconds apart in the second period and the Nordiques went on to extend their unbeaten string to five games.
The Nordiques have won three in a row, the last two on the road and have scored 20 goals in the three games.
With the score tied, 2-2, Marian and Peter went in on a two-on-one break, with Marian tapping the puck past Roberto Romano for his seventh goal. The next time down the ice, Peter scored his 16th.
Vancouver 4, Toronto 1--Tony Tanti had a goal and an assist in the second period at Toronto to give the Canucks the victory in the battle between the teams with the worst records in the NHL.
The victory gave the Canucks, who are 15 points out of fourth place in the Smythe Division, a 10-26-5 record. The hapless Maple Leafs, 14 points out of a playoff spot, are 6-28-5.
Hartford 4, Chicago 3--Defenseman Joel Quenneville scored only his second goal of the season in this game at Hartford, and, like the first, it was a game-winner.
Quenneville's goal was the third scored in 39 seconds in the second period. It came at 2:42 of the period and there was no more scoring. In the last 37 minutes there were 38 shots and none of them went into the nets.
Calgary 4, Minnesota 4--Dan Quinn scored on a power play midway through the third period at Calgary to enable the Flames to earn a tie.
Gilles Meloche, who stopped 40 shots in a busy night, had sprawled to the ice making a save on a shot by Al MacInnis when the rebound was scooped up by Quinn and lifted over the fallen goalie.
Boston 3, New York Rangers 3--The Bruins dominated from start to finish at Boston, but had to settle for a tie when Reijo Ruotsalainen scored with 1:59 left in regulation. The Bruins outshot the Rangers, 40-17.