Mario Lemieux, the big center, sometimes gets the feeling he has to carry the entire load for the struggling Pittsburgh Penguins.
There are times when he can do it, too. A case in point was Tuesday night when the new scoring leader of the National Hockey League propelled the Penguins to a stirring 5-5 tie with the New York Islanders.
Lemieux scored twice in the last five minutes, including the tying goal with only seven seconds remaining in regulation, to get the Penguins a point.
Before the game, Lemieux, who has a league-leading 42 goals, learned he had been awarded an assist in an earlier game that gave him a one-point lead over injured Wayne Gretzky. It was the first time since 1981 that anyone except Gretzky had led in scoring after the halfway point of the season.
The two goals gave Lemieux 89 points to 86 for Gretzky. It is expected that Gretzky, suffering from a severely strained knee, will miss another six games.
"I guess it would be something to win a scoring title, but I'm more concerned with winning games," Lemieux said. "We have been scoring a lot of goals, but it has been a really tough struggle trying to win.
"Maybe, we turned the corner tonight. We had a two-goal lead, blew it, fell two goals behind, then fought back to get a tie."
The Penguins, winless in their last nine games (0-5-4) appeared on their way to their fourth loss in a row when Brent Sutter deflected a shot into the net with 8:17 remaining to give the Islanders a 5-3 lead.
But 32 seconds later, Lemieux scored on a rebound to cut the lead to a goal.
The Penguins pulled goalie Gilles Meloche in the last minute and, with 43 seconds left, Mikko Makela, who had scored two goals, missed an empty net from relatively close range.
In a melee in front of the New York net as the final seconds ticked away, Lemieux grabbed the puck and knocked it into an open net for the tie.
At the request of the Penguins, the NHL office reviewed a goal scored Jan. 1 at Landover, Md. Defenseman Rod Buskas had been awarded the assist on a short-handed goal by Dave Hunter. A review of the films indicated Lemieux should have the assist instead of Buskas.
A shot by Buskas late in the first period broke the jaw of Islanders' defenseman Brian Curran. The blast knocked out several teeth, and Curran fell face forward to the ice. He was carried off on a stretcher.
Buffalo 4, St. Louis 2--Christian Ruttu scored twice at St. Louis to lead the Sabres to their sixth consecutive victory.
Tom Barrasso, who has been in the nets for every game in the streak, gave up a goal in the first few minutes, but not another until after the Blues had a 4-1 lead late in the game.
The Blues have lost five in a row and seven of their last eight.
Winnipeg 5, Vancouver 3--The Jets scored four consecutive third-period goals, two by Dale Hawerchuk, to beat the Canucks at Vancouver.
Steve Rooney started the Jets back from a 3-1 deficit with a goal at 5:23 of the final period. Hawerchuk, fifth in NHL scoring, then scored his 24th and 25th goals of the season to put Winnipeg ahead.