When the New York Rangers won three straight games after the acquisition of Marcel Dionne, it looked as if Phil Esposito, the coach and general manager, had made a master move.
Now, Ranger fans are beginning to wonder.
The New York Islanders got two goals from Pat LaFontaine in the third period Saturday night and rallied for a 4-3 win over the Rangers at Uniondale, N.Y. It was the Rangers' fourth straight loss. Dionne did not score.
The win boosted the Islanders' second-place Patrick Division lead to three points over Washington and six points over the Rangers. The New York teams completed their season series at 3-3-1.
With the Rangers leading, 3-2, at the end of two periods, LaFontaine evened the score during a power play at 9:33 of the third. Mikko Makela, who had three assists, passed back to Ken Leiter at the point. Leiter's shot was stopped by Rangers goalie John Vanbiesbrouck, who dumped the rebound on LaFontaine's stick for a tap-in.
At 15:05, Leiter and LaFontaine repeated with a very similar play resulting in LaFontaine's rebound winning the game. It was his 34th goal of the season.
Islander defenseman Brian Curran suffered a possible left shoulder separation during a second-period fight with the Rangers' Terry Carkner.
Hartford 5, Minnesota 1--Doug Jarvis had his first two-goal game of the season and Kevin Dineen added his 35th goal of the season for the Whalers at Hartford, Conn.
With the victory, the first-place Whalers set a team record for most points in a season with 85, surpassing last year's total by one.
Jarvis, playing in his 955th consecutive game, broke a scoreless tie late in the first period, finishing a play in the slot after a pass from behind the net by Dave Tippett at 16:52.
In the second period, Hartford continued to pressure the Minnesota defense with quick outlet passes, and erupted for four goals on 13 shots within a 14-minute span.
Mike Liut, who lost a bid for his fifth shutout at 6:13 of the third period on a power-play goal by Brian Bellows, was hardly tested by the slumping North Stars, who have a 1-7-3 mark since March 1.
Quebec 2, Philadelphia 2--Doug Crossman scored a power-play goal with three minutes left in the third period to lift the Flyers into a tie at Quebec.
With the Nordiques short-handed because of too many men on the ice, Crossman fired a high shot from the top of the left face-off circle that deflected off a Quebec player and past goaltender Clint Malarchuk at 17:54.
Lane Lambert put Quebec ahead, 2-1, at 8:48 of the third period and the Nordiques appeared to have control of the game until getting caught with seven men on the ice.
Peter Stastny also scored for Quebec and added an assist on Lambert's goal. Brian Propp also scored for Philadelphia.
The point gives the Nordiques a five-point lead in their battle with the Buffalo Sabres for the last playoff spot in the Adams Division. Quebec is in fourth place with 64 points. Buffalo trails with 59 points but have a game in hand.
The tie denied both Quebec Coach Michel Bergeron and Philadelphia Coach Mike Keenan benchmark wins. Bergeron was looking for his 250th career victory and Keenan his 150th.
Detroit 3, Chicago 0--Defensemen Lee Norwood and Gilbert Delorme scored goals 1:28 apart in the final period, and Greg Stefan recorded his fourth career shutout for the Red Wings at Detroit.
The Norris Division-leading Red Wings are 12-2 in their last 14 home games.
Stefan stopped 29 shots and preserved his first shutout of the season moments after Delorme's goal when he slid across the crease to rob a Denis Savard bid. Stefan's last shutout was March 12, 1986, when he blanked the Kings, 3-0.
Montreal 9, Toronto 4--Rookie Shayne Corson completed a five-goal Canadien rally in the second period with a pair of goals.
The Leafs led, 4-1, midway through the game at Montreal, but the Canadiens went on a blitz, getting four goals in 3:17 to take the lead for good and extend their unbeaten streak to four games.
Montreal goaltender Brian Hayward had a shaky start, allowing four goals on 11 shots before he settled down.
New Jersey 7, St. Louis 6--Pat Verbeek broke in alone to score his second goal of the night at 3:12 of overtime to carry the Devils to victory at St. Louis.
Verbeek's winner, his 30th goal of the year, helped New Jersey withstand a third-period St. Louis comeback. Mark Hunter's long slapshot beat Devil goalie Alain Chevrier with 3:02 remaining in regulation play, capping a three-goal Blues rally.