Mark Messier scored four goals for Edmonton as the Smythe Division-leading Oilers mounted a 52-shot offense on their home rink in Alberta and beat the Adams Division-leading Montreal Canadiens last night, 5-2.
Messier scored the winning goal at 7:30 of the third period only 35 seconds after Montreal's Gilbert Delorme created a 2-2 tie with a slap shot from the point.
Messier carried the puck into Montreal territory, waited for his teammates to bunch in front of goaltender Richard Sevigny and sent a wrist shot between Sevigny's legs. Laurie Boschman scored at 8:58 to assure the outcome and Messier scored his fourth goal into the empty Montreal net with 21 seconds left.
Messier was named temporary team captain for the game and remembered, "It was kind of a shocker . . . I didn't know if I should laugh or be serious." He had not worn the captain's C since his St. Albert Saints days in the Alberta junior league. "But once I got on the ice, it was a nice feeling. Being named captain, getting four goals and beating Montreal all in one night is one nice Christmas present."
Messier broke a scoreless tie at 11:59 of the second period, swatting in his rebound on a power play. He made it 2-0 just under two minutes later, coverting a two-on-one break with Wayne Gretzky.
The third-period goals broke up an excellent goaltending duel between Sevigny and the Oilers' Grant Fuhr.
Sevigny was severely tested as the Oilers fell only one shot shy of the team record for shots on goal. Fuhr made several key saves; he faced 31 shots. Ryan Walter broke Fuhr's shutout at 17:29 of the second period, with a 50-foot screened shot.