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NHL Roundup : Oilers Are Shut Out for First Time in 99 Regular-Season Games

October 28, 1987|DAN HAFNER

Only the uniforms were the same. In no other way did the Edmonton Oilers team that took the ice against the Nordiques Tuesday night at Quebec resemble the Stanley Cup champions.

Even Wayne Gretzky had an off night, and the Nordiques beat the Oilers, 5-0, behind the sterling goaltending of Mario Gosselin.

The Oilers, who had won five in a row, had gone 99 regular-season games without being shut out since Minnesota did it March 11, 1986.

Until a final flurry, the Oilers, after three of their shots early in the game hit the post, hardly made Gosselin earn his shutout. But on a power play late in the game, Gosselin had to make five consecutive difficult stops. The rest of the night he faced only 16 shots, and most of them were from long range.

During an interview after the second period with Bill Clement of ESPN, Gretzky succinctly described the Oilers. "We're awful," he said.

The Nordiques, who lost three in a row on their home ice last week, thoroughly outplayed the champions after the first few minutes. They fired 38 shots at goalie Grant Fuhr, scoring three times on rebounds when there was no Oiler available to clear the puck from in front of Fuhr.

Late in the first period, Fuhr blocked a shot by Peter Stastny, whirled and blocked the rebound shot by Michel Goulet. But, while Fuhr was flat on the ice, defenseman Jeff Brown knocked the next rebound into the net. As it turned out, it was all Gosselin needed.

"Any shutout is enjoyable," Gosselin told the Associated Press, "but one against the high-powered Stanley Cup champions is extremely gratifying.

"Our defense played so well tonight that I can't really think of any dangerous shots I faced."

In their three consecutive losses at home, all with Gosselin in goal, the Nordiques gave up 18 goals.

In the absence of Coach Glenn Sather, who is in Toronto trying to talk his brilliant defenseman Paul Coffey into signing a contract, the Oilers were handled by John Muckler, who holds the title of co-coach.

He was unable to talk the team out of its lethargy during the first intermission, and Mike Eagles and Alan Haworth scored early in the second period.

Gretzky, who had two goals and three assists in a 9-5 win Saturday night, couldn't seem to get interested.

Before the shutout, the Oilers, the most powerful offensive team in National Hockey League history, had scored 42 goals in the last 7 games.

New Jersey 4, Philadelphia 0--It was Black Tuesday for both teams who met in the final round of the playoffs last spring.

The Flyers, who missed winning the Stanley Cup by just one victory, couldn't score against the surprising Devils. They had nine power-play opportunities, but Alain Chevrier stopped all 26 shots he faced to register his first NHL shutout.

It was a club-record fifth consecutive victory at East Rutherford, N.J., for the Devils, who slipped into first place in the tight Patrick Division race.

The Flyers, who had to play the first eight games without suspended goalie Ron Hextall, are winless in two games since he returned.

Hextall, who won the Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the league last season, matched Chevrier for almost 27 minutes. But Aaron Broten broke the scoreless tie on a power play, then fed Pat Verbeek for another goal less than two minutes later. Patrick Sundstrom scored less than a minute later to give the Devils three goals in less than three minutes and a commanding lead. The rest was easy for Chevrier.

New York Islanders 4, Chicago 4--The Islanders jumped in front, 3-1, in the first period at Uniondale, N.Y., then had to have a goal by Rich Kromm with 5:23 left in regulation to get a tie.

Kromm's first goal of the season detracted from a spectacular performance by Bob Mason, the Blackhawk goalie.

Mason stopped 43 shots, six of them in overtime when the Islanders applied extreme pressure in an effort to break the deadlock.

Kelly Hrudey wasn't nearly as busy as Mason. He made 26 saves, all in regulation.

Minnesota 5, St. Louis 3--Brian Bellows scored his eighth goal of the season with 9:31 left at St. Louis to give the North Stars the victory.

Bellows' goal came just 25 seconds after Bernie Federko's goal had pulled the Blues even, 3-3. Keith Acton scored his second goal of the game into an empty net in the final minute to complete the scoring.

Brian Lawton also scored twice for the North Stars, who have won three in a row after winning only one of their first six games.

Washington 3, Vancouver 2--Mike Ridley's power-play goal in the second period gave the Capitals a three-goal lead and they held on at Vancouver.

Ridley scored his third goal of the season at 12:58 with a quick shot from the right circle after a point shot was blocked by the Vancouver defense.

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