Ilkka Sinisalo and Len Hachborn teamed up in a record-breaking performance Sunday at Philadelphia to lead the Flyers to an overwhelmingly easy 11-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The win gave the Flyers first place in the Patrick Division.
Following the back-to-back wins over the Washington Capitals Thursday and Friday, Coach Mike Keenan feared the Flyers would be in for a letdown.
There was no cause for worry shortly after Mike Bullard put the Penguins in front 72 seconds after the opening faceoff. The Flyers soon tied it and, in the middle of the first period, Sinisalo and Hachborn scored goals just nine seconds apart, a club record by one second.
A seven-goal outburst in the second period, in which Sinisalo and Hachborn each scored again, turned the game into a rout. The second goal gave Sinisalo a career-high 30 goals.
Sinisalo, becoming a standout in his fourth NHL season, is a former star of the Finland National team. At 6-1, 190, he is a big, strong left wing who has become a sharpshooter.
Although he missed 10 games because of back spasms, Sinisalo has been brilliant since returning in mid-January. In his first six games he had six goals and five assists. In his last three, including the wins over Washington, he has five goals and three assists.
"Ilkka is a very intelligent hockey player," Keenan said. "His improvement this season is one of the reasons we've done so well. We started working hard in training camp on power plays and killing penalties and we found he was invaluable doing both.
"Much of our success can be attributed to the work we did in camp on penalty-killing and power plays."
There was one sour note. Goaltender Bob Froese, just rounding into form after a series of injuries, had to leave with a groin injury in the first period. His replacement, Pelle Lindergh, gave up the final three Pittsburgh goals, but picked up his league-leading 30th victory.
Boston 3, Washington 2--Dave Donnelly knocked in a rebound with 2:25 remaining at Landover, Md. to send the Capitals staggering to their third loss in a row.
The Capitals, behind the steady goaltending of Pat Riggin, took a 2-1 lead into the final period. On a power play the Bruins tied thanks to a fortunate bounce of the puck.
Ray Bourque, who scored the first Boston goal, fired a shot that hit Washington defenseman Rod Langway in the ribs and caromed over to Ken Linesman. Linseman had an open net and tied the game.
It was only the second time in 34 games in which they have led going into the final period that the Capitals have lost.
Vancouver 6, Edmonton 3--Al MacAdam scored the tying goal and the go-ahead goal in a three-goal second period at Vancouver that enabled the Canucks to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
The Oilers have won only once in the last seven games.
St. Louis 6, Detroit 2--Doug Wickenheiser had the second hat trick of his career in this game at St. Louis to help the Blues increase their lead in the Norris Division to eight points.
Wickenheiser scored two of the goals that gave the Blues an early 3-0 lead. But goals 37 seconds apart later in the first period by John Ogrodnick and Danny Gare narrowed the gap. However, goals by Rik Wilson and Wickenheiser restored order in the second period.
Winnipeg 7, New Jersey 1--A short-handed goal by Laurie Boschmman four minutes after the opening faceoff at Winnipeg gave the Jets a quick start toward the win that put them into second place in the Smythe Division.
The Jets improved the lead to 4-0 before Aaron Broten ruined Brian Hayward's bid for a shutout with his 20th goal on a power play in the final minute of the second period.
Minnesota 3, Chicago 2--Center Keith Acton stole the puck at his own blue line and skated in for an unassisted goal midway through the third period at Chicago that broke a 2-2 tie.
It climaxed an uphill battle that enabled the North Stars to take over undisputed possession of third place in the Norris Division. The Stars spotted the Black Hawks a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Montreal 5, Hartford 5--Sylvain Turgeon scored his second goal of the game with 6 1/2 minutes remaining at Hartford to give the Whalers a tie, although the Whalers extended their home winless streak to 13 games (0-11-2).