NHL Roundup : Flames Wavering, Lose to Jets, 1-0

The Calgary Flames, featuring size, strength and speed, plus the sharpshooting of Joe Nieuwendyk, have been the class of the National Hockey League this season.

With Wayne Gretzky playing for the Kings, rather than leading the champion Edmonton Oilers, the Flames believe this is the year they will win the Stanley Cup.

But lately, Nieuwendyk has stopped scoring and the Flames are not looking all-powerful. They have lost two of their last three games and barely won the other, 4-3, at home against the weak St. Louis Blues, who are in a slump.

The Flames' slump became a bit alarming Sunday when rookie goaltender Bob Essensa, playing in just his sixth NHL game, shut them out, 1-0, at Winnipeg. Dale Hawerchuk scored his 33rd goal on a rebound he flipped over prone goalie Rick Wamsley early in the second period.

Although Flame Coach Terry Crisp showed no concern, it was another loss to a last-place team. Thursday night at Calgary, the Flames lost to Toronto, the trailer in the Adams Division, which had won only 20 of 61 games.

Although they haven't given up hope of making the playoffs, the Jets have dropped far behind Vancouver in the Smythe Division and won for only the 21st time in 62 games.

Essensa is best known as the goaltender who led Michigan State to the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. title in 1986. Last season, his first as a pro, he had a 4.66 goals-against average in 27 games for Moncton (Maine) of the American Hockey League.

After being brought up three weeks ago by the Jets, he is 3-2-1.

"You gotta give the Jets credit," Crisp said. "They shut us down and not many teams have done that this year."

The third victory in a row at home gave the Jets a 13-13-4 record on their own ice.

Montreal 5, Vancouver 2--The club-record winning streak of the Canucks came to a grinding halt at seven in this game at Montreal.

The Canadiens, moving to within a point of slumping Calgary in the battle for the best overall record, scored three goals before the middle of the first period and the Canucks couldn't catch up.

Rookie Trevor Linden scored both Vancouver goals, one when the Canucks were short-handed and the other on a power play, but Bobby Smith scored twice in the last period to open up a safe lead again.

Montreal goaltender Patrick Roy improved his sensational record at the Forum this season to 20-0-2. On the road he has posted a mediocre 7-5-2 record.

Hartford 8, Pittsburgh 6--Mario Lemieux scored his 65th goal and added three assists at Hartford, but the Penguins missed another chance to regain first place in the Patrick Division.

The Whalers built a 6-1 lead before the game was 22 minutes old and held on for the victory. The Whalers had 54 shots on goal.

Lemieux needs 50 points in 17 games to tie Wayne Gretzky's scoring record.

Chicago 4, Detroit 4--The Blackhawks, desperately trying to cut into the Red Wings' lead in the Norris Division, did everything well at Chicago, but didn't get the needed victory.

They outshot the Red Wings, 53-27, including a 6-1 advantage in the five-minute overtime, but remained 13 points behind with only 16 games remaining.

Denis Savard, returning after missing 13 games with an ankle injury, gave the Blackhawks the tie when he scored with 8:14 left in regulation.

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