The New York Rangers were convinced that the red goal light behind their net didn't work in overtime. In their previous 29 overtime games, they had only seen it flash once.
But, at 2:01 of the extra session Wednesday night at New York, Walt Poddubny took a cross-ice pass from Mark Osborne and fired the puck into the net to give the Rangers a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.
The second overtime victory in 30 games was the 10th time in 15 games this season the Rangers were tied at the end of regulation. Until Poddubny's eighth goal of the season and second of the game, the Rangers had a 1-4-4 record in overtime this season.
"It was a 'Hail Mary' pass," the excited Poddubny, playing despite a broken finger, said. "Mark's pass must have gone through five people. It was a great pass and my shot went through the legs of the goaltender (Tom Barrasso). It was a tough game for them to lose."
It was the Sabres' second loss since Craig Ramsay took over for Scotty Bowman as coach and the second by one goal. The other was a wild, 7-6, game with Vancouver.
By contrast, the Sabres played solid defense in this one. They held the Rangers to four shots on goal in the first period and permitted only 18 in 62 minutes.
"When you hold a team to four shots in the first and third periods, you should win," Wilf Paiement, who assisted on the Sabre goal, said.
Pittsburgh 2, Boston 1--The Penguins' Dave Hannan put his mind on the game at Pittsburgh and scored twice to lead the club back into first place in the Patrick Division.
Shortly before game time the Penguins traded Mike Bullard to Calgary for Dan Quinn, another center. Tuesday, Bullard, who scored 41 goals for the Penguins last season, walked off the ice at practice and Coach Bob Berry took his captaincy away from him.
"We had to handle it as professionals and that's what we did," Hannan, a stalwart on the checking line, said. "We wish Mike the best but we had to concentrate on playing this game."
Left wing Terry Ruskowski was named new captain of the Penguins.
The Penguins (10-4-2) are off to the best start ever and lead Philadelphia by one point.
Montreal 4, Quebec 3--In another bitter battle for supremacy of Quebec Province at Montreal, the Canadiens struck early and barely lasted.
Stephane Richer scored in the last minute of the first period to give Montreal a 3-1 lead, then scored again early in the final period.
But Peter Stastny and Jason Lafreniere scored and, with more than four minutes left, the Nordiques were battling for a tie. Goalie Patrick Roy made sure they didn't get it.
It was the first of eight meetings this season between the bitter rivals and for once, there were no fights.
New Jersey 5, Detroit 3--John MacLean began and ended a four-goal outburst in 16 minutes by the Devils at East Rutherford, N.J. to help them end a four-game winless streak.
The Red Wings had allowed just 38 goals in 14 previous games, but their defense collapsed and the Devils took charge.
Both teams have 7-7-1 records.
St. Louis 4, Toronto 2--Doug Gilmour scored twice and assisted on another as the Blues maintained their mastery over the Maple Leafs at St. Louis.
The Blues, in ending a three-game winless streak, extended their unbeaten string at home against the Leafs to 13 games. The Leafs last won in St. Louis in 1983.
It was the third loss in a row for the Maple Leafs, who lead the Norris Division.
Washington 2, Chicago 2--Defenseman Larry Murphy scored with just three seconds remaining in regulation at Chicago to give the Capitals a tie.
The Capitals pulled goalie Bob Mason for an extra skater with a minute left. Murphy, a former King, got the puck in a scramble in front of the net and knocked it in just before time ran out.
The light didn't go on, but referee Ron Fournier said the puck went into the net.
Both teams had three shots in overtime, but didn't score.
The tie gave the Capitals (7-7-3) a four-game unbeaten streak.
Hartford 4, Vancouver 3--John Anderson scored with three seconds remaining in the second period to give the Whalers a victory over the Canucks at Vancouver.
The Whalers held Vancouver to just five shots in a scoreless third period.