Steve Yzerman had only an assist Wednesday night at Detroit as the Red Wings beat the New York Rangers, 4-3, to win their second consecutive Norris Division title.
But make no mistake, the Red Wings repeated because the 23-year-old center had a fabulous season. When he set up rookie Brent Fedyk’s first National Hockey League goal in the second period to give the Wings a 3-1 lead, it was his 90th assist.
He also has 64 goals and is the league’s third-leading scorer. There are some who believe Yzerman is more valuable to the Wings than Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky are to their respective teams.
“Maybe, he’s just the third-best player in the league,” Detroit Coach Jacques Demers said. “But he should be considered for the Hart Trophy (MVP) for what he means to this club. He almost never has a bad shift.”
While the Red Wings were eliminating St. Louis with just three games left in the regular season, the Rangers were missing a chance to move into second place ahead of Pittsburgh in the Patrick Division.
“This is the best of the two,” Demers said. “For what we went through this hectic season, there’s nothing that compares to this one.”
Toronto 3, Minnesota 1--The Maple Leafs just won’t go away. They remained two points behind Chicago in the battle for the final playoff position in the Norris Division with the victory at Toronto.
Vince Damphousse’s goal late in the second period broke a 1-1 tie and Al Iafrate clinched the victory with his 13th goal at 13:39 of the final period.
The Maple Leafs didn’t seem to have much of a chance just a week ago, when they were six points behind the Blackhawks with six games remaining. Now, they are two points behind with two games left. The Leafs are at St. Louis Saturday night and Chicago Sunday. The Blackhawks are at Hartford Saturday.
Chicago 3, Quebec 1--Dirk Graham scored the tiebreaking goal just before the two-minute mark of the final period at Chicago and the Blackhawks maintained their lead over Toronto.
Graham picked off an errant pass at center ice and then scored his 32nd goal of the season to break a 1-1 tie.
If the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs tie in points at the end of the season, the winner will be determined by most victories. The Maple Leafs have the edge with 28 victories. The Blackhawks have won 26 games.
Darin Kimble of the Nordiques was suspended for eight games because he slashed Ulf Samuelsson of Hartford on March 23.
New York Islanders 5, New Jersey 4--Alan Kerr scored his second goal of the game on a power play 27 seconds into overtime as the Islanders won at East Rutherford, N.J.
Kerr’s 19th goal came off the rebound of a shot by Brent Sutter.
Edmonton 5, Vancouver 2--The Oilers gained the victory at Vancouver, but lost their chance to finish second when the Kings won in overtime.
The Oilers, defending Stanley Cup champions, finished second in the Smythe Division last season. But this time they have lost home-ice advantage for the first series against the Kings.