In two of the four previous seasons, the Chicago Black Hawks, when things went wrong, installed General Manager Bob Pulford as the coach. Each time, the team straightened out and skated into the playoffs.
When the Black Hawks went into a skid three weeks ago, they didn't have that luxury. Pulford already was the coach. There was no need to worry, though.
Pulford not only has pulled the Black Hawks out of their slump, he has them playing the best hockey in the league.
Ken Yaremchuk scored twice Saturday night to lead the Black Hawks over the New York Islanders, 4-1, for the team's first win at Uniondale, N.Y., in 12 years. It was the fourth win in a row and the eighth in their last nine games for the Hawks.
Before the turnaround, the Black Hawks were 9-14-4, had lost five in a row and trailed St. Louis by six points in the Smythe Division. The first win at Nassau Coliseum in the last 27 games kept the Hawks in a tie for first in the division.
While Yaremchuk scored the tie-breaking goal at 8:12 of the second period and scored again early in the third, it has been the Steve Larmer, Al Secord, Denis Savard line that has keyed the surge.
Secord scored the first goal in this game to give him eight in the nine-game spurt. Larmer scored the final goal into an empty net. Larmer, the playmaker on the high-scoring line, has four goals in the streak and Savard has seven. Savard assisted on Larmer's goal to extend his scoring streak to 13 games.
Mike Bossy of the Islanders, who scored his 500th goal Thursday night, did not get a point and his streak ended at 15 games.
Boston 4, Buffalo 0--The Bruins didn't feel much like celebrating Pat Riggin's shutout at Boston, the first for the Bruins in 39 games this season.
It could be a costly victory. Charlie Simmer, who leads the Bruins with 17 goals despite missing 15 games with a knee injury, had to be carried out on a stretcher in the second period after being struck in the eye by the stick of Buffalo's Gates Orlando.
Simmer was rushed to the hospital. A spokesman said it would take a while to determine the extent of the injury.
It was a scoreless game until the first minute of the third period when Geoff Courtnall and Bill Derlago scored 24 seconds apart to give Riggin all the scoring he needed. Riggin stopped 24 shots.
Steve Kasper and Keith Crowder also scored as the Bruins improved their home record to 13-1-4, best in the NHL.
Edmonton 4, Hartford 3--Wayne Gretzky set yet another NHL record. The Oilers' incomparable center assisted on two of his team's four goals in the second period at Edmonton to reach 100 points for the seventh consecutive season.
Gretzky, who has more than half the season left to add to the total, was tied with Bobby Orr and Guy Lafleur at six in a row. Only Marcel Dionne of the Kings, with eight, has more 100-point seasons than Gretzky, who is in his seventh NHL season.
The Oilers trailed, 2-0, going into the second period. But, with Gretzky flying up and down the ice, the Oilers completely outplayed the Whalers in the middle 20 minutes. They scored their four goals on 11 shots and permitted the Whalers only two shots.
Montreal 6, Calgary 5--Mario Tremblay scored twice in the second period at Calgary to help the Canadiens hand the faltering Flames a club-record ninth defeat in a row.
The second win in two nights on the road kept the Canadiens on top in the Adams Division.
Quebec 7, Detroit 2--Michel Goulet scored his 29th goal while the Red Wings were two players short in the second period at Detroit and triggered a four-goal outburst that enabled the Nordiques to win their third in a row.
There were numerous altercations and a brawl erupted with just six seconds left in the game. The major combatants were the two goalies, Clint Malarchuk of Quebec and Mark Laforest.
Washington 9, New Jersey 3--Mike Gartner registered aa club-record 10th hat trick to lead the Capitals to an easy victory at Landover, Md.
Al Jensen, beaten only once in his last 14 starts for the Capitals, shut the hapless Devils out for 46 minutes.
St. Louis 2, Philadelphia 1--In a spectacular performance at St. Louis, goaltender Greg Millen stopped 32 shots and the Blues ended a two-game losing streak.
What turned out to be the winning goal was a 30-foot slapshot late in the first period by Mark Reeds that gave the Blues their 2-1 lead.