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NHL Roundup : Canadiens Hold Off Nordiques, 5-4

December 17, 1987|DAN HAFNER

Wayne Gretzky said recently that he thought the Montreal Canadiens, for the time being at least, were the best team in the National Hockey League.

The Canadiens are doing their best to make the Edmonton Oilers star a prophet.

Ryan Walter scored twice and Stephane Richer had a goal and an assist at Montreal Wednesday night as the Canadiens held off Quebec, 5-4, to extend their unbeaten string to eight games.

The Canadiens, who have a 14-game unbeaten streak at home and an eight-point lead in the Adams Division, built a 5-1 lead in two periods against their bitter rival.

The Nordiques, last in the division, put together three goals in about five minutes but could not make it three victories in a row over the Canadiens.

One of the Nordiques' better chances came with almost seven minutes left, but they couldn't get a tying goal past Brian Hayward. The Montreal goalie was saved when defenseman Rick Green made a sliding stop of a shot by Michel Goulet that seemed about to slip into the far corner of the net. Goulet had previously scored twice in the game.

"They've come from behind against us in every game," center Bobby Smith said. "We have to be concerned about that."

Canadien Coach Jean Perron noted that the Nordiques made some adjustments to account for their third-period success.

"They started sending three guys in to check," he said, "and it was working."

Richer's goal was his 21st in 31 games, tying his career high set in 65 games in 1985-86, when he was a rookie.

Chicago 4, Minnesota 2--Just about the time it seemed that Coach Bob Murdoch was about to lose his job, the Blackhawks have straightened out.

As they pulled into a tie for third place in the Norris Division, the Blackhawks ended a 15-game road winless streak with the victory at Bloomington, Minn.

Denis Savard's 16th goal broke a 2-2 tie with a little more than eight minutes remaining. It was only the third road victory in 19 games for the Blackhawks.

Dino Ciccarelli scored both goals for the North Stars.

Calgary 5, Winnipeg 4--Joe Mullen scored on a power play with a little more than four minutes remaining at Calgary to give the Flames an 8-1-1 record in their last 10 games.

Winnipeg tied the score, 4-4, on Dale Hawerchuk's 15th goal just three minutes earlier.

Mullins' goal came after he pounced on a loose puck in front of the net.

New York Rangers 9, New Jersey 3--In probably their most impressive performance of the season, the Rangers ran off six straight goals at New York to win easily and extend their home unbeaten streak to six games (5-0-1).

Although they are second in the tough Patrick Division, the Devils continue to play poorly on the road, where they are 3-10-3 after this one-sided loss.

Kelly Kisio had two goals and two assists and Michel Petit scored twice in the five-goal second period that broke the game open.

Detroit 6, Washington 1--Petr Klima, an early-season disappointment, scored twice at Detroit to help the Red Wings end a five-game winless streak and stretch their lead in the Norris Division to four points.

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