Wayne Gretzky, zeroing in on two more NHL records, scored a pair of goals and added three assists last night in Edmonton, Alberta, to pace the Oilers to a 7-4 victory over the Minnesota North Stars.
The 20-year-old center climbed to within four goals of tying Phil Esposito's single-season record of 76 goals set during the 1970-71 season with Boston and he is only four short of eclipsing the NHL points record of 164, which he established last year with Edmonton.
Mark Messier notched a hat trick in the Oilers' assault, giving him 40 goals for the season. Kevin Lowe and Glen Anderson also scored for the Oilers.
Defenseman Craig Hartsburg, with a pair, Tom McCarthy and Steve Christoff were the Minnesota goal scorers.
Trailing 3-2 in the second period, the Oilers scored five straight goals to settle the contest.
The North Stars started slowly--failing to get a shot on net in the first seven minutes--but struck for goals by Hartsburg and McCarthy 37 seconds apart to grab a 2-0 first-period lead.
Gretzky ignited a four-goal Edmonton second period, firing his 71st goal of the season and assisting on goals by Anderson and Lowe.