Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gretzky's Quest Gives Nhl Boost

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gretzky's Quest Gives Nhl Boost

Article excerpt

Pacific Division

Kings megastar Wayne Gretzky will give the league a much-needed post-Olympic publicity push by closing in on Gordie Howe's record of 801 career goals. . . . Flames center Joe Nieuwendyk left Thursday's game with Tampa with a strained knee.

Ducks rookie goaltender Mikhail Shtalenkov dazzled in his debut, helping Anaheim earn a 2-2 tie in Pittsburgh. He was the No. 1 goaltender for the gold-medal winning Unified Team in the 1992 Winter Olympics. New Ducks center Stephan Lebeau is scraping off the rust after overcoming an ankle injury. He missed six weeks of action. . . . Oilers winger Brent Grieve has five goals in seven games since his promotion from Cape Breton. He had a hat trick against the defenseless Kings on Friday. Stapleton after claiming him from the Penguins on waivers.

***** Central Division

Not only do the 'Hawks miss defenseman Steve Smith, it may take winger Dirk Graham a month to recover from a shoulder separation. Defenseman Eric Weinrich will miss another week or two with a broken jaw. So the 'Hawks had to move Neil Wilkinson back to defense from forward. Yet owner Bill Wirtz thinks his club still might put a deal together for Canucks holdout Petr Nedved now that the Olympics are over. . . . The latest arena proposal in Winnipeg would tie a new 16,000-seat building to a casino. That way patrons could place a bet on the Jets to lose, then go watch it happen.

The Leafs got ex-Blue Pat Jablonski to serve as its No. 3 netminder, further solidifying their outstanding goaltending. . . . Red Wings winger Dino Ciccarelli (broken foot) and defenseman Mark Howe (chronic back problems) returned to action from the injured list. Ciccarelli missed 16 games, Howe 21. Center Steve Yzerman threw in 45 points in a 25-game span. Goaltender Chris Osgood earned his second consecutive shutout Saturday to solidify his No. 1 status.

***** Northeast Division

The Penguins won just three times in a 10-game span, going 3-6-1. …

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