Mario Tremblay, one of the few connections to the glory days of the Montreal Canadiens, scored the tie-breaking goal early in the third period Wednesday night at Winnipeg to lead the Canadiens to a 4-2 victory over the Jets.
The victory, in which Mats Naslund, scored twice, gave the Canadiens sole possession of first place in the tight Adams Division race.
Tremblay was a young defensive specialist when the Canadiens finished the '70s by winning four consecutive Stanley Cups. In those days, the Canadiens relied almost entirely on Canadians, many French Canadians.
The rejuvenated team, under former star Jacques Lemaire, is practically a United Nations aggregation. Naslund, the leading scorer with 37 goals is from Sweden.
The heart of the defense is composed of a group called "Uncle Sam's Plumbers," a contingent of six players born in the United States.
One of the "Plumbers," Tom Kurvers set up Tremblay's winning goal, his 25th of the season.
Naslund's second goal of the game, which came with 7:18 remaining, was a fluke. His shot hit Jet defenseman Robert Picard's skate and caromed into the net.
The Jets played the Canadiens tightly in the first two periods and held a 2-1 lead, although they had only 11 shots on goal in 40 minutes. But Naslund gave the Canadiens a tie at 3:00 of the last period and, 15 seconds later, Tremblay put them ahead.
Chicago 5, Minnesota 4--Denis Savard scored his 33rd goal of the season with just 1:36 left at Bloomington, Minn., to enable the Black Hawks to move to within four points of first place in the Norris Division.
The Black Hawks, who have done an about-face since General Manager Bob Pulford replaced Orval Tessier as coach, are unbeaten in the last six games (5-0-1). Since Pulford returned as coach, the Black Hawks are 10-2-2 and have almost assured themselves of finishing no worse than second.
The North Stars, who trailed, 4-1, early in the third period, had scored three goals in a row, two by Steve Payne, to gain a tie before Savard came through with the tie-breaker.
Detroit 5, Toronto 3--Darryl Sittler, once the cornerstone of the Maple Leafs, scored two goals at Toronto, including the game-winner with seven minutes left.
The Leafs fought back from a 3-1 deficit on two goals by Jeff Brubaker, only to have Sittler end their hopes.
New York Rangers 6, Vancouver 3--George McPhee and Mark Pavelich scored in a 50-second span in the second period to seal a Ranger victory at Vancouver. With the Rangers leading, 3-0, McPhee slapped the puck past Vancouver goaltender Frank Caprice at 11:41 and Pavelich tapped in a rebound at 12:31 to make it 5-0.
New York took a 1-0 lead at 3:32 of the first period when Jan Erixon scored when he was hit in the face by Robbie Ftorek's slapshot from the blue line and the puck deflected into the net. Erixon suffered a broken nose and had to leave the contest.