A year ago, Joe Nieuwendyk was scoring goals in bunches for Cornell. Now, he's doing it for the Calgary Flames as the top rookie in the National Hockey League.
Nieuwendyk had his second four-goal game to lead the Flames to a 7-1 victory over the Sabres Sunday night at Buffalo.
Nieuwendyk scored before the game was four minutes old, completed his hat trick before the second period was half completed, then added another with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
The victory gave the Flames a 12-2-2 record in the last 16 games and pulled them into a tie with Edmonton for first place in the Smythe Division.
With the Flames dominating play throughout, it was an easy night for goaltender Mike Vernon, maybe, too easy. He had stopped 23 consecutive shots when Richie Dunn fired a shot from the point that eluded Vernon. Dunn's first goal of the season came with only 70 seconds remaining.
Nieuwendyk, who is the leading point maker among rookies, with 30 points, had a hat trick against Quebec Nov. 19. He has 19 goals for the season and 12 in his last 12 games.
The 21-year-old Nieuwendyk and Brett Hull, the son of the immortal Bobby Hull, give the Flames the best pair of newcomers in the league. Hull has 15 goals.
"I was in a two-game pointless slump and so I really wanted to come here tonight, break the slump and have a good game," Nieuwendyk said. "Three of the goals came on deflections and I've been working on that part of my game."
The Flames have won three in a row on the road.
Chicago 5, Toronto 1--The Blackhawks ended one of the worst losing streaks in club history when Rick Vaive scored twice in the first 3 1/2 minutes at Chicago to start an easy win over the Maple Leafs.
Vaive, who has 23 goals helped the Blackhawks end an eight-game losing streak that dropped them into last place in the Norris Division.
Rookie goalie Darren Pang, who is 4-0 at Chicago Stadium, protected the lead, stopping 30 shots. He had a 4-0 lead before Gary Leeman scored on a 45-foot shot at 12:45 of the first period.
With their last previous victory, over Minnesota Nov. 18, the Blackhawks had taken over first place.
Philadelphia 4, Winnipeg 3--After scoring two goals in 39 seconds in the middle of the third period at Winnipeg, the Jets appeared about to win it when Flyers' goaltender Ron Hextall was given back-to-back penalties.
Instead of giving up a power-play goal, though, the Flyers won the game when Murray Craven intercepted a pass and beat goaltender Pokey Reddick with a 20-footer.
The goal came with 5:34 remaining, extended the Flyers' unbeaten streak to eight games (6-0-2) and moved them into a tie for third place in the Patrick Division.