The Winnipeg Jets have convinced all the other teams in the National Hockey League that they are a legitimate contender, and now, they've also made a believer out of their coach, Barry Long.
After the Jets trounced the Minnesota North Stars, 5-2, Wednesday night at Winnipeg for their club-record 40th victory, Long admitted as much.
"Most of what this team has done has surprised me ," Long said. "But the way they have played lately has made a believer of me."
Doug Smail scored twice to lead the Jets to their club-record seventh consecutive victory and enabled them to retain a four-point lead over Calgary in the battle for second place in the Smythe Division.
The Jets, after a scoreless first period, broke the game open with three goals in the second period. After the North Stars closed the gap to 3-2 with goals nine seconds apart early in the third period, Ron Wilson scored and Smail put the game out of reach with his 30th goal.
"We have been playing sound hockey lately," Long said. "And (Brian) Hayward has given us outstanding goaltending."
In the seven-game winning streak the Jets have outscored the opponents, 36-15.
Hartford 3, St. Louis 2--If the Blues continue their skid and fail to win the Norris Division, they can put some of the blame on the Whalers' backup goalie, Steve Weeks.
In this game at Hartford, Weeks beat them for the second time in less than a week. On Saturday, he shut them out, 5-0.
With Chicago also losing, the Blues, despite four losses in a row, still lead the Black Hawks by four points.
Vancouver 5, Buffalo 4--The Sabres, needing only a victory at home against the team with the worst record in the league to take over first place in the Adams Division, weren't equal to the task.
Despite two goals by reliable Gil Perreault, the Sabres lost when Michael Pettit scored with 4:10 remaining to break a 4-4 tie.
Edmonton 6, Chicago 4--Glenn Anderson scored on three power plays to lead the Oilers to only their second victory in the last six home games. Jari Kurri scored his league-leading 68th goal as the Oilers thwarted the Black Hawks bid to cut into St. Louis's lead in the Norris Division.
Kurri leads teammate Wayne Gretzky by three goals with eight games remaining. Gretzky, who has not scored a goal in the last three games, had two assists. He needs 12 points in the last eight games to get 200 points.
Calgary 7, Toronto 4--Hakan Loob scored two goals at Calgary to lead the Flames past the Maple Leafs. Loob has 33 goals.
The Flames, still four points behind Winnipeg in the battle for second in the Norris Division, are now six points ahead of the fourth-place Kings.