The one major problem the Philadelphia Flyers have battled this season has been an inability to put the puck in the net.
Their defense has been solid and the goaltending of Ron Hextall has been mostly excellent. Although they gave up more goals than they scored in the first 60 games (210-208) they led the tough Patrick Division.
When the Red Wings jumped off to an early 5-1 lead Tuesday night at Detroit, it figured the Flyers were in for a long night. The Red Wings not only boasted a strong defense, their goalie, Glen Hanlon, was one of the hottest in the National Hockey League.
Form failed to prevail. The Flyers erupted with their most potent offense of the season and, with Mark Howe and Murray Craven each scoring twice, overwhelmed the Red Wings, leaders of the Norris Division, 11-6.
The Flyers still trailed, 6-4, going into the final period, but scored seven goals on just 13 shots to turn the game into a rout. J. J. Daigneault's power-play goal tied the score, 6-6, after 6:10 of the period. Then, Howe, Ron Sutter, Craven and Dave Poulin scored in a four-minute outburst.
Steve Yzerman scored his 48th goal to break Marcel Dionne's club record set in 1974-75. It came late in the second period to give Detroit a 6-4 lead. There was no cause for celebration later.
"It's just one of those games you don't explain, " Coach Mike Keenan of the Flyers said. "That is one of the strangest games I've ever been involved in. Early in the game, we could do absolutely nothing right. In the second half, especially the last period, we did everything right."
Coach Jacques Demers of the Wings said, "The last 40 minutes seemed like four hours."
New York Islanders 6, Vancouver 1--Before the regular season ends, the Flyers are likely to need their new-found offense. Both the Islanders and Washington Capitals have indicated they intend to make it a hot race in the Patrick Division.
In this game at Uniondale, N.Y., Bryan Trottier had two goals and two assists and Mikko Makela scored twice when the Islanders were short-handed. The victory extended the Islanders' unbeaten string to six games (4-0-2) and left them three points behind the Flyers.
To the credit of the Islanders, they have two goalies playing exceedingly well. In this one Kelly Hrudey stopped the first 30 shots he faced, but on a power play with only 74 seconds left in the game, Petri Skriko spoiled his shutout.
Bryan Hayward stopped 25 shots and the Canadiens moved one point ahead of Boston. Hayward lost his shutout bid with 5:27 remaining when Gaetan Duchesne scored his 16th goal.
Hartford 3, Boston 2--Kevin Dineen scored his 21st goal with just 55 seconds left in regulation at Hartford to enable the Whalers to knock the Bruins out of first place.
Boston defenseman Ray Bourque assisted on both his team's goals to extend his scoring streak to 15 consecutive games. During the streak he has six goals and 14 assists.
Mike Liut stopped 25 shots as the Whalers pulled to within two points of third-place Buffalo in the battle for playoff spots in the Adams Division.
Winnipeg 4, Pittsburgh 3--Mario Marois scored halfway through overtime at Pittsburgh to hand the slumping Penguins their fourth loss in a row.
The Penguins, battling to earn a playoff spot in the Patrick Division, blew a 2-0 lead, then battled back to pull even, 3-3, on a power-play goal by Dan Quinn at 6:27 of the last period.
NHL scoring leader, Mario Lemieux, with a chance to fatten his lead over Wayne Gretzky, had an assist and leads the idle Gretzky by 17 points.
Edmonton 6, St. Louis 4--The Oilers spotted the Blues an early 2-0 lead at St. Louis, then charged back to win their second in a row without Wayne Gretzky.
Craig Simpson, the best shooter in the league with nearly 30% accuracy, scored twice, including the game-winner 4:20 into the final period. The two goals gave Simpson 40 this season.
With Grant Fuhr settling down to blank the Blues for the last 39 minutes, the Oilers pulled back into first place in the Smythe Division, a point ahead of Calgary.
Gretzky, suffering from an eye injury, is expected to miss at least one more game.