The Philadelphia Flyers went into December in last place in the Patrick Division. Their goal was to reach .500 by Christmas.
In one of the great turnarounds in National Hockey League history, the Flyers didn't just stop at .500. They are home--in first place--for Christmas.
Dave Poulin scored twice Wednesday night at Philadelphia to lead the Flyers to a 5-3 victory over Minnesota and extend their unbeaten streak to 13 games (11-0-2).
With the Islanders losing, the Flyers, who were 14 points behind before the unbeaten string, slipped into first, a point ahead of the Islanders.
The North Stars, who are winless in seven games (0-6-1), jumped in front, 2-1, on power-play goals by Dino Ciccarelli and Neal Broten.
But Rick Tocchet and Poulin scored 34 seconds apart later in the period and the Flyers were on their way.
"We figured we had to go 9-3 to get back in the race," goalie Ron Hextall said. "We've done even better."
The Flyers were 6-13-3 Nov. 23. Now they are 17-13-5.
Buffalo 5, Detroit 2--It was a 24-hour turnaround for the Sabres at Detroit. They bounced back from their worst loss in history, 9-0 at Boston, to gain the victory.
Rookies Pierre Turgeon and Bob Logan scored second-period goals to give Buffalo a 3-1 lead.
A bench-clearing brawl marred the finish. With 2:26 left, Kevin Maguire bowled over Detroit goalie Greg Stefan and a free-for-all ensued. Mark Faucette, in his first NHL game as a referee, handed out 116 minutes in penalties, including seven game misconducts.
Washington 2, Montreal 2--In a battle of the two most effective goalies in the NHL at Montreal, it was a stand-off.
The Capitals' Pete Peeters, with a goals-against average of 2.45, was busier, facing 42 shots, to 20 by Patrick Roy, who has a 2.74 average.
Chicago 7, New York Islanders 5--Rookies Jim Playfair and Dave Mackey scored in a three-goal outburst in the third period at Chicago that enabled the Blackhawks to knock the Islanders out of first place in the Patrick Division.
The Islander had been in first place since Nov. 1.
With their fourth win in the last five games, the Blackhawks surged to within four points of first place in the Norris Division.
Rick Vaive had two goals for the Blackhawks and has nine in the last eight games.
Toronto 5, St. Louis 1--Dan Daoust scored unassisted goals in each of the first two periods at St. Louis to pace the Maple Leafs to an easy victory.
Goalie Allan Bester stopped 34 shots, 16 of them in the third period. Tony McKegney ruined his shutout halfway through the last period.
New Jersey 6, Pittsburgh 2--Aaron Broten and Brendan Shanahan scored in the second period at Pittsburgh to start a five-goal spurt that led the Devils to an easy victory that ended the Penguins' three-game winning streak.