The Toronto Maple Leafs have the worst record in the National Hockey League, but they have convinced several teams lately that they aren’t the worst team.
The Leafs managed only a 3-3 tie with the Washington Capitals Friday night at Landover, Md., but they made believers out of the team with the second-best record in the league.
“They’re not as lowly as we heard,” said Mike Gartner, whose goal with 8:28 left in regulation allowed the Capitals to gain the tie.
“If they play within their system, they’re going to get better and better. They’re sitting back and playing for the breaks.
“We didn’t wake up until the middle of the second period, but you have to give them credit.”
The Leafs, who are 4-1-2 on the road, were outshot, 40-17, and didn’t get a shot on goal in the third period until after Gartner tied the score.
The Leafs built a 3-2 lead in the first two periods on just 10 shots against rookie Bob Mason. Pat Riggin replaced Mason at the start of the final period.
The Leafs, unbeaten in their last three games, are 5-2-2 in their last nine games.
Alan Haworth scored the first two goals for the Capitals in the second period. The tie enabled the Capitals to take a six-point lead over idle Philadelphia in the Patrick Division.
“We have been showing improvement,” Coach Dan Maloney said. “A tie here is something special for us.”
New Jersey 3, New York Islanders 2--Dave Lewis, an original Islander who was traded away five years ago, scored against his former team for the first time in this game at East Rutherford, N.J., and it was the game-winner.
Lewis took a pass from Kirk Muller and beat goalie Kelly Hrudey on a 35-foot shot at 5:51 of the third period to give the Devils a 3-1 lead.
Another former Islander, goaltender Glenn Resch, also had a big game. He stopped 24 shots and beat the Islanders for the third time this season.
“The key,” Resch said, “is that we didn’t let the Islanders get started in the first two periods. And when they started storming the net, we held them off.”
The goal ended the Devils’ seven-game winless streak and extended the Islanders’ winless streak to four.
The Islanders, hit hard by injuries all season, lost defenseman Stefan Persson with a leg injury suffered when Persson crashed into his own goalpost.
Vancouver 4, Hartford 3--Rookie Petri Skriko of Finland scored his second goal of the game at 1:11 of overtime at Vancouver to give the Canucks the victory.
The Canucks held a 3-1 lead with two minutes left in regulation, but the Whalers scored twice within 50 seconds to tie the game.