Stephane Richer, in his third season in the National Hockey League, is developing into a star at 21.
Richer put on one of the best performances of his career Wednesday night at Montreal to lead the Canadiens to a 5-4 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
Richer had a hand in every goal. He scored three of them and set up the other two. It was his pass to the right of the crease that made it easy for Mats Naslund to score the winning goal with just three minutes remaining.
The hard-earned victory, which came after the Canucks wiped out a two-goal deficit earlier in the last period, increased the Canadiens' lead in the Adams Division to three points over the Boston Bruins.
With 37 goals and 26 assists, the young center has long since set standards for himself in both categories.
"I am feeling a lot more comfortable this season," said Richer, who was sent to the minors for part of last season. "This year the coach has confidence in me, and I think it is beginning to show in the way I'm playing."
Richer is being praised as the team's best offensive talent since Guy Lafleur. The Canadiens have not had an outstanding scorer since the clever Frenchman retired.
Chicago 6, Edmonton 4--Despite two more goals by the league's top sharpshooter, Craig Simpson, the Oilers just couldn't win this one at Chicago without ailing Wayne Gretzky.
Keith Acton's goal 44 seconds into the final period brought the Oilers even, but Dirk Graham scored the tiebreaking goal with seven minutes left in regulation.
Winnipeg 3, New Jersey 1--Daniel Berthiaume was spectacular in the nets at East Rutherford, N.J., and the Jets made the most of a few shots.
Andy McBain and Dale Hawerchuk scored the decisive goals in the third period of a game in which the Devils had 45 shots, the Jets only 12.
Toronto 4, Minnesota 2--Peter Ihnacak scored twice at Toronto, but it was a short-handed goal by Ed Olczyk late in the second period that enabled the Maple Leafs to finally end the North Stars' jinx.
The Leafs had gone 0-3-4 against Minnesota this season and 0-9-2 since beating the North Stars Feb. 27, 1985.