Coach Jack Evans departed the Civic Center after Saturday night's 6-3 loss to the
hoping for a complete reversal of form 18 hours later in a game against the
He got it - in spades. And hearts. And clubs. And diamonds.
scoring two of his record-tying four goals in the opening 3:50, Greg Malone chipping in a hat trick and Greg Millen stopping all 28 shots thrown his way, the Whalers registered an 11-0 victory over the Oilers that set records (23) for setting records and had a sellout crowd of 14,817 celebrating into the night.
Yes, that's 11-0. And, no, that's not a misprint. The Oilers may have been without the league's top two scorers,
and Jari Kurri, but you have to believe it probably wouldn't have made any difference in the outcome of this one, the Whalers' first victory over Edmonton in 11 games, dating back to Nov. 28, 1980.
"When people see that score, they're not going to believe it," said Whalers center
, who had three assists. "It wasn't 1-0 or 3-0 or 5-0, it was 11-0. That's scary."
Scary, maybe. Unthinkable, for sure.
"What a difference when the puck starts bouncing right for you," Malone said after notching his second hat trick en route to a five-point game that equaled Francis' output and tied a team record. "Last night, we kept trying, but nothing was clicking. Today, the guys got confidence, started jumping and away we went."
Francis had an idea it might be a special afternoon from the outset.
"After I got the first two goals, I felt it might be one of those days," Francis said, after notching his second career hat trick and running his scoring streak to seven games (eight goals and nine assissts). "Your legs feel good, and you're not tired from having less sleep the night before. You think you might get more."
And more. And more.
"I'm at a total loss to explain this, but I'm not surprised at the total reversal of form," Evans said of his club's fourth in five starts that gave them as many as they had all last season (19) and one more point (46) than they had in 1982-83. "That often happens in sports after everything goes wrong. Today, everything went right."
Right from the start.
Francis scored a power-play goal 86 seconds into the game, something the Whalers hadn't been able to do with a five-on-three advantage Saturday night.
Malone scored his first goal 1:35 into the second period while the Whalers enjoyed a two-man advantage.
And Hartford scored four of their six power-play goals in a 4:06 span of the second period and KO'd Edmonton All-Star goaltender Grant Fuhr while ex-Whaler Kevin McClelland was serving a five-minute major penalty after he KO'd Sylvain Turgeon with an elbow at 8:29.
Saturday night, the Whalers had a five-minute power play and were lucky to get one goal by Francis. This time, they finished six-for-six with the man-advantage, thanks to the four-for-one trick.
Turgeon, who scored once and was thwarted twice by Fuhr on breakaways, had his helmet knocked off by McClelland and lay unconscious on the ice for two minutes before being helped to the bench. He was taken to the locker room soon after and, subsequently, to St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center with a slight concussion. He was held overnight for observation.
McClelland's injurious elbow was one of many chippy plays by the Oilers, who showed the frustrations of a five-game losing streak, their first since December 1980. It was also the first time the Oilers had been shut out since the New York Islanders notched a 5-0 victory in Edmonton, March 12, 1981.
But Millen's second shutout of the season, third as a Whaler and seventh in the NHL, resembled a pitcher tossing a no-hitter while his team was winning 25-0 and two guys hit grand slammers.
"I think I'll go home and have a nice party," Millen said. "It was a great team shutout. When you're eight or ten goals up, there's really not a big save."
Save one, that is - a glove stab of Ken Linseman's flip from the doorstep with 4:34 to go.
"My glove was dangling like a wet noodle, and he hit it," Millen said. "It was the only breakdown we had in the whole game."
For the record, Ray Neufeld, Chris Kotsopoulos and Bob Crawford also scored for Hartford. Crawford also had three assists and Tony Currie chipped in four assists as 12 Whalers got on the scoresheet, including Blaine Stoughton, who played for the first time in five games.
While the Whalers and their fans celebrated, Oilers Coach Glen Sather could only bemoan "an entire collapse of our hockey team."