When they lost their first 4 games and won only 3 of their first 12, it appeared it would be a long season for the St. Louis Blues.
On Nov. 7, they were in last place in the Norris Division, already nine points behind.
But veterans Bernie Federko and Doug Gilmour had other ideas. They rallied their teammates and, slowly, the Blues turned it around.
They made it all the way back Sunday at St. Louis when they beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, reached the .500 mark and, actually, took over first place.
The Blues scored all three goals on power plays. Gilmour scored two of them, and Federko had two assists.
"Doug and Bernie wouldn't let the other guys get down on themselves," Coach Jacques Martin said. "We started improving in early December, and now we are playing extremely well.
"We've been working much better lately. It's also helped that we're healthier, too."
Greg Millen stopped 24 shots to get the victory. He gave up a goal to Denis Savard in the last minute of the first period and another to Steve Ludzik late in the second.
The Blues (15-15-5) have lost only once in their last 10 games to shoot from last to first in the division.
Quebec 5, Hartford 3--In the sixth try, the home team finally won in this series between the Nordiques and Whalers.
The Nordiques had won, 4-2, Saturday night at Hartford to make it five in a row for the visiting team.
But Michel Goulet sparked a four-goal first period that gave the Nordiques a comfortable working margin. Goulet, who wound up with a hat trick, assisted on the Nordiques' first goal, then scored the next two.
"After the tough game last night, we went with four lines," said Goulet, who has 23 goals. "I felt rested every time I went out there. I never did feel fatigued.
Minnesota 5, Detroit 4--The North Stars built a 5-1 lead in the middle of the second period at Bloomington, Minn., then barely held on for their first victory in nine games.
The Red Wings, who have lost six in a row on the road, scored three times in the second period to get close.
But, in the last 20 minutes, they fired 21 shots at goalie Kari Takko and he stopped all of them.
The defeat knocked the Red Wings out of first place in the Norris Division. Although the North Stars remained in last place, they are only six points out of first place.
New York Rangers 4, Boston 1--The Rangers are beginning the drive they hope will get them out of last place in the Patrick Division.
It took them just 13 seconds after the opening faceoff to get their first goal in this game at New York and send them on their way to a second win in a row.
Walt Poddubny, who later scored twice, set up Tomas Sandstrom in the slot, and his linemate scored on the first shot of the game. Poddubny, who has 22 goals, has 7 of them and 5 assists in the last 9 games. Linemate Sandstrom has five goals and six assists in the last six games.
Pittsburgh 3, Buffalo 3--Randy Hillier scored his first goal of the season with just 7:10 remaining in regulation at Buffalo to get the Penguins a tie.
Hillier's score took some of the edge off a strong performance by Buffalo goalie Tom Barrasso. Barrasso stopped 42 shots and sent the game into overtime when he made a diving save on a shot from just outside the crease by Perry Ganchar with just 15 seconds left.