Two things seem certain to happen each season in the National Hockey League.
First, Wayne Gretzky will be the scoring champion. And second, Mike Bossy will score 50 goals.
Gretzky is so far in front in scoring that the Edmonton Oiler star could sit out the rest of the season and most likely still win his sixth consecutive title.
Bossy is zeroing in on his ninth consecutive 50-goal season.
The scoring star of the New York Islanders had a hat trick Saturday night at Uniondale, N.Y., to lead the Islanders to a 6-5 victory over New Jersey.
Bossy's third goal of the game, coming with 2:28 remaining, gave him 43 goals this season and gave the Islanders the victory. Bossy has 23 more games in which to score the seven goals he needs to continue his amazing streak.
In 1977-78, Bossy scored 53 goals to set a record for rookies. In each season since, he has scored 51 or more, with a high of 69 in 1980-81.
Until Gretzky came along to perform his amazing scoring feats, Bossy was known as the best scoring machine in the history of the NHL. But Gretzky has shoved him deep into the background.
"It doesn't bother me that Gretzky has taken over the scoring honors, because he's a fantastic player," Bossy said. "But I do have strong feelings about getting my 50 goals each season. I have felt good all season.
"I shouldn't miss my goal this season. It helps that Bryan Trottier (Bossy's linemate) is healthy again. We are playing better, too. We are only a little away from being a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup."
Trottier assisted on Bossy's first two goals, which helped the Islanders jump out to a 3-0 lead. However, the Islanders fell behind in the third period and had to score twice in the last 4:13 to pull out the victory.
Pittsburgh 9, Vancouver 4--Mario Lemieux had two goals and two assists at Pittsburgh to help the Penguins extend their home unbeaten string to nine games (7-0-2) and to become the first Penguin player to have back-to-back 100-point seasons.
In helping the Penguins regain fourth place in the Patrick Division, Lemieux cut Wayne Gretzky's scoring lead to 55 points.
Doug Sheddon had a hat trick in the first period for the Penguins, and Mike Bullard had three assists.
Montreal 5, Philadelphia 3--Stirred up by rumors of sweeping trades, the Canadiens opened up a 3-0 lead at Montreal and held off a furious Flyer rally.
Mats Naslund scored his 37th goal and added an assist to help build the lead for the Canadiens, who had won only one of their five previous games.
"We didn't want the losing streak to go any further," Naslund said. "It's not a happy occasion to hear trade rumors. Not at all."
Mark Howe had a goal and two assists in the last period to lead the late Flyer surge. The Flyers had gone six games without losing.
Minnesota 4, Hartford 1--Another brilliant performance by goaltender Don Beaupre, this one at Bloomington, Minn., enabled the North Stars to extend the slumping Whalers' winless streak to 10 games (0-9-1).
Beaupre stopped 32 shots, losing his shutout in the first minute of the final period.
Brian Bellows had an assist to tie a North Star record by scoring in 17 consecutive games. Jude Drouin had set the mark in 1971.
St. Louis 5, Boston 1--Mark Hunter and Bernie Federko each scored twice at St. Louis, enabling the Blues to end an eight-game winless streak against the Bruins.
The two goals gave Hunter 33 for the season. His previous high was last season when he scored 21 for Montreal.
Toronto 4, Chicago 3--Tom Fergus scored a power-play goal with 58 seconds remaining at Toronto to give the Maple Leafs the victory.
The Leafs blew a 3-0 lead before coming back to win on Fergus's 22nd goal of the season.