An early-season slump behind them, the Philadelphia Flyers are going after the other teams in the Patrick Division one by one.
Brian Propp capped a three-goal second period with what proved to be the winning goal, and the Flyers stretched their unbeaten streak to 10 games by downing the New York Islanders, 4-3, Thursday night at Philadelphia.
"We don't want to worry about going after first place, we want to concentrate on getting to second place first," Coach Mike Keenan said. "Once we get to second place, we'll go from there."
Philadelphia is five points behind the division-leading Islanders and one point in back of second-place New Jersey, which lost to Pittsburgh Thursday night.
The Flyers, riding an 8-0-2 surge, are 14-13-5 and over .500 for the first time this season.
Philadelphia's last defeat was at the hands of the Islanders, 6-4, at the Spectrum on Nov. 21.
"We wanted to be a .500 team by Christmas," Flyer goalie Ron Hextall said. "For us to be .500 now, it's a treat."
The Islanders stayed close with three goals of their own in the second period, two by Mikko Makela, but Hextall blanked them the rest of the way.
Philadelphia's Rick Tocchet snapped a 2-2 tie in the second period with his sixth goal of the season at 12:12. Propp followed with his decisive goal at 15:33.
The game marked the return of Philadelphia defenseman Brad Marsh, who suffered a concussion in a game against the Boston Bruins Dec. 8. Marsh, who was one of the few remaining NHL players not to wear a helmet, wore a helmet for the first time.
Boston 3, Vancouver 2--Defenseman Ray Bourque scored his second goal of the game 2:16 into overtime to lift the Bruins over the Canucks at Boston.
The Bruins extended their unbeaten streak in Boston Garden against the Canucks to 10-0-1. Vancouver recorded its last victory at Boston Dec. 13, 1980, and the Bruins hold a 30-2-3 advantage in the series at Boston Garden.
Boston's Ken Linseman tipped in Reed Larson's shot with 2:47 remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime. The Bruins outshot the Canucks, 50-23, including a 26-5 edge in the third period.
Pittsburgh 7, New Jersey 4--Mario Lemieux scored two goals and set up Randy Cunneyworth's tiebreaker midway through the third period, and the Penguins went on to defeat the Devils at East Rutherford, N.J.
Pittsburgh led, 4-3, entering the third period, but New Jersey tied the score when John MacLean scored his fifth goal of the year on a shot off the glove of goalie Gilles Meloche at 7:29.
St. Louis 2, Hartford 0--Rick Wamsley stopped 22 shots and recorded his second shutout of the season as the Blues beat the Whalers at Hartford, Conn.
Rookie Tony Hrkac scored in the second period and Rick Meagher added a goal in the third period as the Blues stretched their unbeaten streak to 3-0-2 and snapped Hartford's five-game unbeaten streak.