The Pittsburgh Penguins were only a .500 team through the first quarter of the season. There were some who felt that it proved that the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory was a fluke.
Maybe, they just needed to get accustomed to new Coach Scotty Bowman. Lately, the Penguins have looked good enough to repeat as NHL champions.
With Mark Recchi scoring twice Saturday night at Landover, Md., the Penguins avenged three blowouts to the Washington Capitals with a 6-2 victory.
In the three previous games the Capitals outscored the Penguins, 21-4. But in this one the Penguins scored two short-handed goals and two more on power plays.
As the season moves to the halfway point, the Penguins have moved to within three points of the first-place New York Rangers in the Patrick Division. Pittsburgh is 13-4-1 in the last 18 games.
Recchi, the Penguins' leading scorer last season, became the fourth Penguin to reach 20 goals. Kevin Stevens, Mario Lemieux and Joe Mullen reached the mark previously.
Wendell Young, in goal because Tom Barrasso has a swollen leg after being hit by a puck during the 12-1 rout of Toronto Thursday, had 27 saves.
New York Islanders 5, New York Rangers 4--At Uniondale, N.Y., the Islanders blew a 4-2 lead in the third period, but Tom Fitzgerald scored his second goal of the season with 2.7 seconds left in regulation.
Goals by Tony Amonte and Kris King less than three minutes apart brought the Rangers even, 4-4.
With time running out and the Rangers' Mike Gartner draped over him, Fitzgerald shot and the puck appeared to hit the skate of Ranger defenseman Brian Leetch before going into the net.
New Jersey 3, Buffalo 0--After scoring eight goals Friday night, the Sabres were shut out at East Rutherford, N.J.
Craig Billington stopped 26 shots to improve his record to 6-1-1.
The Sabres, even with the 8-1 victory over Boston, are 2-10-4 in their last 16 games.
Minnesota 5, St. Louis 2--After a four-game "rest," goaltender Jon Casey came back with a strong effort at Bloomington, Minn.
Casey, benched after going 1-3 in his previous four games, stopped 29 shots to pace the North Stars.
Calgary 5, Philadelphia 1--Theoren Fleury scored twice at Calgary and the Flames easily swept past the Flyers.
Mike Vernon stopped 29 shots, giving up only a second-period goal.
Quebec 4, Hartford 1--The Nordiques scored three times in the first 14 minutes at Quebec and scored one of their rare easy victories.
Detroit 5, Toronto 4--The Red Wings spotted the Maple Leafs a 2-0 lead in the first 5 1/2 minutes at Toronto and fought back to win.
Vancouver 3, San Jose 2--Igor Larionov had a second-period hat trick at San Jose to bring the Canucks from behind. The Canucks increased their lead in the Smythe Division to eight points.