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NHL Roundup : Quebec, New Jersey Keep Their Streaks Intact

November 08, 1987|DAN HAFNER

Quebec and New Jersey are two National Hockey League teams who usually do not spend much time in the limelight.

But both are off to unusual starts this season and grabbing the headlines.

The Nordiques, with Peter Stastny off to a sensational start, are the only team in the National Hockey League that has not lost a game on the road.

On the other hand, the Devils, who for the last nine seasons have been one of the five teams failing to make the playoffs, are the only team in the league perfect at home.

With Peter, the best known of the Stastny brothers (the others are Anton and Marion), scoring twice at Hartford, the Nordiques beat the Whalers, 5-3, Saturday night. On the road the Nordiques are 7-0-1.

The really amazing story, though, is the Devils. Last season, although they tied Buffalo for the worst record, they won 29 of their 80 games, the most they've ever won.

They are a team that has never been above .500 20 games into a season.

The change is amazing. They trounced the Washington Capitals, 4-1, at East Rutherford, N.J., and are now 8-0-0 at home. Their record of 9-4-0 puts them just one point out of first place in the tough Patrick Division.

Mark Johnson, the former U.S. Olympic star, returning after missing 11 games because of a sprained knee, led the Devils to their latest win at home.

The hustling little center scored a goal and set up another. With Bob Sauve giving the Devils another steady performance in the nets, the Devils continue to shine.

Sauve lost his bid for a shutout in the second period when Kevin Hatcher of the Capitals intercepted a clearing pass and drove a 40-footer into the net before Sauve knew he had the puck.

Quebec 5, Hartford 3--Stastny, who has 15 goals in 14 games, broke a 3-3 tie halfway through the last period, then set up an insurance goal by Paul Gillis five minutes later.

Edmonton 5, Buffalo 0--Wayne Gretzky scored the first two goals of the game at Edmonton and All-Star goaltender Grant Fuhr stopped 26 shots for his third career shutout and the Oilers' first in two years.

The two goals gave Gretzky 13 for the season and 556 in his career. He is now tied with John Bucyk for sixth place on the all-time goal scoring list.

The Sabres had only four shots on goal in the final period.

Montreal 5, Philadelphia 4--Stephane Richer and Mike McPhee scored in the last three minutes at Montreal to enable the Canadiens to extend their unbeaten streak to six games.

The Flyers, who have won only one of their last nine games, fell deeper into the cellar in the Patrick Division, nine points behind the leading Islanders.

New York Islanders 4, Detroit 3--Rich Kromm scored his second goal of the game at 1:46 of overtime at Uniondale, N.Y., to save the Islanders.

The Islanders led, 3-1, with 90 seconds left in regulation. But Brent Ashton cut the lead to a goal and with 32 seconds left, Steve Yzerman sent the game into overtime.

Boston 4, Pittsburgh 1--Rick Middleton scored twice at Boston as the Bruins ended a six-game winless string.

Doug Keans, yanked from the previous game after giving up a 70-foot shot in the first period, faced only 17 shots against the Penguins, who were playing without their brilliant center, the injured Mario Lemieux.

St. Louis 4, Toronto 3--Brian Benning scored the winning goal at 6:46 of the final period at Toronto and the Blues held off the Maple Leafs the rest of the way.

The Blues, who had won only once in seven previous road games, handed goalie Allan Bester his first defeat of the season.

Vancouver 4, Minnesota 1--Rookie goaltender Kirk McLean stopped 29 shots and Petri Skriko had three assists as the Canucks won at Bloomington, Minn., for the first time in nearly eight years.

Until McLean, who has started 11 of the last 13 Canuck games, turned in his fine performance, the club had not won in Minnesota since Feb. 2, 1980.

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