Almost from the time they first donned skates, it seemed certain that Guy Lafleur and Marcel Dionne would become outstanding hockey players.
Born in Quebec province just 48 days apart, the two have been compared for three decades.
In the twilight of their National Hockey League careers, they are finally teammates and linemates on the New York Rangers. Lafleur, the best player in the NHL in the 1970s, ended a 4-year retirement to sign with the Rangers. Dionne, the older 34-year-old, had his best seasons with the Kings and is in his 18th NHL season.
The dream of Ranger fans was that Lafleur and Dionne would regain their best form and lead the Rangers to the Stanley Cup.
The legs are a little older, but after a slow beginning, the two veterans are making their presence felt.
Lafleur had 2 assists, and Dionne had another Wednesday night at New York to lead the surging Rangers to a 5-1 victory over the Washington Capitals.
Brian Mullen scored twice, and Brian Lawton had a goal and 2 assists as the Rangers won their second in a row and kept the Capitals in the cellar in the Patrick Division.
When Lafleur assisted on Mullen's goal late in the first period, it gave Dionne and Lafleur a combined 3,000 points in their careers. They added 2 more assists on Michel Petit's first goal of the season, which gave goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck a 2-0 lead in the second period. Vanbiesbrouck stopped 28 shots but lost his shutout with 3:07 left when Mike Ridley tipped in a shot.
"I'm feeling more at home with every game," Lafleur said after his seventh game in his comeback. "It is really a privilege to play with Marcel. I'm sure we can help this club."
The Capitals (2-4) lost defenseman Larry Murphy when he injured his hip in the first period. Although he left the game, the injury is only a bruise.
Vancouver 4, New Jersey 0--The Devils peppered goalie Kirk McLean for 12 of the first 14 shots at East Rutherford, N.J., and when the youngster stopped them all, the Devils were done.
Rich Sutter scored a short-handed goal late in the first period and the Canucks went on to end a 3-game losing streak. McLean, in his second NHL shutout, stopped 28 shots.
Toronto 4, Buffalo 2--Just as they did last year, the Maple Leafs have jumped in front in the Norris Division. With goaltender Ken Wregget stopping 37 shots at Toronto, the Maple Leafs improved their record to 5-3.
Last season the Leafs, after their fast start, faded to fourth and barely made it to the playoffs.
"We got away with this one, thanks to Ken Wregget," Toronto Coach John Brophy said.
Montreal 5, Hartford 4--Defenseman Mike Lalor converted a pass by Claude Lemieux into his first goal of the season with 1:40 left at Montreal to give the Canadiens the victory.
The lead seesawed in the final period. Chris Chelios put Montreal ahead, 4-3, at 3:50. Ray Ferraro, who set up 2 goals earlier in the game, tied it up 3 minutes later with a slap shot from the slot.
Boston 5, Winnipeg 2--Glen Wesley and Steve Kasper scored 10 seconds apart in the third period at Winnipeg to break open a close game.
The Bruins, who are 5-2 for the season, lead the Adams Division by 2 points.
Calgary 2, Minnesota 1--All the goals were scored before the game was 12 minutes old at Calgary. Joe Nieuwendyk's sixth goal in 6 games gave the Flames a 2-1 lead at 11:35, and goaltender Rick Wamsley protected it.