It should come as no surprise that Wayne Gretzky scored 500 goals faster than any NHL player in history.
With a hat trick Saturday night at Edmonton that led the Oilers to a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, Gretzky reached that number in just 575 games.
He became the 13th player to score that many goals. He erased another Mike Bossy record. Bossy, who has scored at least 50 goals in nine consecutive seasons, needed 647 games in which to reach 500.
“It’s exciting anytime you get to a milestone,” Gretzky said, “but I look upon 500 as still a long way to go. I never downplay anything I accomplish, but I see Gordie (Howe) with 800 goals and I look at it as being 300 behind.
“Only one guy has 800. That’s the plateau I want. (Howe scored 801 goals in 1,767 games).”
Gretzky’s next milestone is 545, which would put him ahead of Maurice (The Rocket) Richard, considered by many the best of the old-timers.
Only 25, the 6-foot 170-pound center holds or shares 42 NHL records. He also scored 50 goals in the first 39 games of the 1981-82 season.
The historic goal was into an empty net with just 18 seconds remaining. He scored on his first shot just 97 seconds after the opening faceoff. He scored No. 499 early in the second period. Before getting his 500th, Gretzky, who has been in a mild slump, assisted on two goals, thus having a hand in all his team’s scores.
In 22 games this season Gretzky has 19 goals and 32 assists for 51 points and is well on his way to his eighth consecutive scoring title.
Pittsburgh 5, Washington 4--The Penguins remain the surprise team of the season. They came from behind in the third period to win for the first time at Landover, Md. since Oct. 14, 1983.
Randy Cunneyworth scored a short-handed goal halfway through the second period to end the Penguins’ nine-game losing streak at the Capital Centre.
The Capitals, who are winless in their last seven games, scored four goals on 10 shots in the first two periods, then missed on 10 in the final 20 minutes.
Detroit 4, Montreal 3--Gerard Gallant scored twice at Montreal as the Red Wings fought back from a two-goal deficit to snap the Canadiens’ five-game winning streak and end their own winless streak at five.
Gallant’s second goal broke a 2-2 tie at 7:39 of the final period.
Philadelphia 6, Toronto 1--Peter Zezel and Brian Propp each scored twice at Philadelphia as the Flyers improved the best record in the league 14-4-2. Despite their brilliant start, the Flyers lead the Penguins in the Patrick Division in points only 30-28.
Hartford 6, New York Islanders 3--Dave Tippett scored two short-handed goals at Uniondale, N.Y., the first igniting a five-goal second period burst that carried the Whalers to victory.
Mike Bossy of the Islanders also scored a short-handed goal, his 14th of the season and his seventh in the last five games.
Calgary 8, New York Rangers 5--Hakan Loob broke a 4-4 tie with 6:51 remaining at Calgary to hand the Rangers the loss. In two games under interim Coach Phil Esposito, the club’s general manager, the Rangers have scored 13 goals, but are 1-1.
The victory ended the Flames’ three-game losing streak.
Quebec 3, Buffalo 1--Craig Ramsay is not enjoying his brief coaching career. Michel Goulet scored a goal and assisted on another at Quebec to extend Ramsay’s winless streak to seven games. Since Ramsay replaced General Manager Scotty Bowman as coach, the Sabres are 0-6-1.
Boston 6, St. Louis 5--Charlie Simmer’s second goal of the game early in the third period gave the Bruins the victory at Boston. The Bruins battled back after spotting the Blues a 3-0 lead in less than 8 1/2 minutes.
Minnesota 6, New Jersey 2--Ron Wilson and Dino Ciccarelli scored goals 14 seconds apart in the second period at Bloomington, Minn. to lead the North Stars to their first win in the last six games. Ciccarelli leads the league with 21 goals.