Dave Poulin scored two goals for the second game in a row Saturday at East Rutherford, N.J., to lead the onrushing Philadelphia Flyers to a 5-3 victory over fading New Jersey to extend their winning streak to a club-record tying 10th game.
Poulin scored twice in the third period. His first tied the game at 3-3, then after Ron Sutter broke the tie with 2:20 remaining, Poulin completed the scoring with a shot into an empty net in the final minute.
While some clubs are coasting into the playoffs, the Flyers are flying. The winning streak not only has virtually assured them a division title, it has given them a shot at finishing with the best overall record.
In becoming the second club to go over 100 points this season, the Flyers increased their lead over Washington to eight points with just seven games remaining. With 101 points, they trail Edmonton by only a point for overall honors.
When the Flyers launched their streak, longest in the league this season, March 5, they trailed the Capitals by four points and the Oilers by 12. Three games into the streak, the Flyers lost their best scorer, Tim Kerr (51 goals) with a knee injury. The Capitals and Oilers slumped, and the Flyers just keep on flying.
Rookie Coach Mike Keenan, who seems a cinch for Coach of the Year, is effusive in praise of Poulin, the team's new captain.
"You used to have a player out there, Number 16 (Bobby Clarke) who they called the heart and soul," Keenan said. "Our captain is starting to become that as well."
Poulin, who scored 31 goals as a rookie last season, has 29 goals now. The 26-year-old center played college hockey at Notre Dame.
"We're on a roll now," he said. "The adrenaline is flowing. I'm just trying to contribute. It is flattering to be even considered in the same class as Clarke."
The Devils, who have lost seven in a row, have just about lost all chance of making the playoffs. They trail the Rangers for the last playoff spot in the Patrick Division by 7 points.
Hartford 5, Boston 2--Rookie Ray Ferraro scored three power-play goals at Hartford to lead the Whalers to their fourth consecutive victory and keep their faint playoff hopes alive.
The Bruins need a victory in their last eight games or a Hartford defeat to clinch the final spot in the Adams Division.
Winnipeg 6, Vancouver 4--Center Dale Hawerchuk extended his scoring streak to 13 games by scoring twice in the third period at Winnipeg to lead the Jets to their eighth win in a row.
Hawerchuk scored the tie-breaking goal at 4:20 of the third period on a power play. Halfway through the period, Hawerchuk scored his 48th of the season.
The Jets spotted the Canucks a 3-2 lead in the first period before taking charge.
St. Louis 4, Minnesota 2--Doug Gilmour scored an unassisted short-handed goal late in the second period at St. Louis and it was the decisive score as the Blues ended a five-game winless streak.
It was the Blues' first short-handed goal since Jan. 14 and enabled them to take a five-point lead over the Black Hawks in the battle for first place in the Norris Division.
The Blues have seven games left to play.