Danny Gare, captain of the Buffalo Sabres and holder of the club record for most goals in a season, and Bob Sauve, the NHL's third-leading goalie, were traded to the Detroit Red Wings yesterday.
Defenseman Jim Schoenfeld, 29, and center Derek Smith, 27, also went to Detroit.
The Sabres got the Red Wings' top two scorers, center Dale McCourt, 24, and right wing Mike Foligno, 22, plus center Brent Peterson, 23.
Sabre Coach Scotty Bowman said the trades were made to help the team win the Stanley Cup.
"It is always with regret that we trade players who have performed so admirably for so long," Bowman said, "but we felt changes had to be made if we were to keep progressing toward our ultimate goal . . ."
A spokesman for Detroit, which is ninth in the Campbell Conference, said: "It was a case of a decision having to be made. The team has been in a tailspin for some time."
In games last night, Pittsburgh beat Winnipeg, 4-2; Quebec got by Edmonton, 9-8; Colorado beat Chicago, 3-2; Hartford defeated Toronto, 5-3; the New York Rangers edged Los Angles, 4-3, and Vancouver beat Minnesota, 5-0.
In Pittsburgh, defensemen Pat Price and Paul Baxter each scored a deflection goal.
In Quebec City, the Stastny brothers got four second-period goals and Dale Hunter had a hat trick.
In Denver, Brent Ashton tipped in a pass from Rob Ramage with 3:33 left to break the tie.
In Toronto, Ron Francis had a goal and two assists to lead Hartford to its first road victory this season.
In Los Angeles, Dean Talafous and Dave Maloney scored in the third period to break a 2-2 tie.
In Vancouver, Thomas Gradin scored twice and got an assist.