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NHL Roundup : Lemieux Scores Twice in 3-2 Win and Meets the Gretzky Challenge

The best battle in the National Hockey League may be the one between Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux for the scoring championship.

In most recent seasons, Gretzky has clinched the point title by mid-season. An injury that forced him to miss 13 games set Gretzky back this season. And, the further development of Lemieux as an outstanding player, has made for a hot battle.

Gretzky fell 19 points behind Lemieux before he returned Friday night at Edmonton against Calgary. The incomparable center, who just recently turned 27, signalled he was ready to meet the challenge by assisting on all Oiler goals in a 5-4 loss.

Lemieux is not about to back off.

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The big center scored with just 49 seconds left in overtime Tuesday night at Pittsburgh to give the Penguins a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals.

It was Lemieux’s second goal of the game and 50th in just 51 games this season. It also increased his scoring lead to 16 points.

Lemieux missed three games this season because of injuries. He has 26 games remaining. Gretzky has 27 more games to play.

The Penguins, who played a solid defensive game for more than 57 minutes, held a 2-0 lead and were ready to claim victory and a shutout for rookie goalie Frank Pietrangelo.

But, with just 2:41 left in regulation, Yvon Corriveau scored and Dave Christian tied it with 35 seconds left.

Deep into the extra five-minute period, Lee Griffin fed Lemieux with a lead pass and Lemieux beat Pete Peeters to win it.

Buffalo 6, Quebec 3--Phil Housley scored the tie-breaking goal in the middle of the second period at Quebec, then scored again early in the final period to give hot goaltender Tom Barrasso another victory.

Barrasso, voted goalie of the month in January when he was 10-3-2, stopped 27 shots to start February on a winning note.

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Scott Arniel, who opened the scoring with a short-handed goal, also scored the last one for the Sabres with less than seven minutes remaining.

Before Barrasso started exhibiting All-Star form, the Sabres were last in the Adams Division. They are now a solid third, 12 points ahead of the sixth-place Nordiques.

New York Rangers 2, New York Islanders 2--Walt Poddubny jammed the puck into the corner of the net with 40 seconds left in regulation at Uniondale, N.Y., to get the Rangers a tie and take some of the edge off a spectacular performance by goaltender Billy Smith.

Smith, 37, made one sensational stop after another, protecting a 2-1 lead and just missed doing it. Pat LaFontaine scored his 33rd goal five minutes into the final period to give the Islanders their lead.

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In their last four road games, the Rangers are 3-0-1.


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