The last three shots Marc Bureau has taken resulted in goals. Stanley Cup-series goals. His first three NHL goals. Important goals, he's been told by Minnesota North Star teammates, who hold a 1-0 lead over the Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals as they move to Game 2 tonight at Pittsburgh.
"Three shots, three goals. It's like the game I got five shots and five goals in Salt Lake," says Bureau, who was traded up from the Eagles to the North Stars with seven games left in the regular season and has been on a break from reality ever since as the Stars went from a losing regular-season record to the Stanley Cup finals.Odd that Bureau would remember his best night as an Eagle at a time when he's having unreal success in the big time? Maybe not.
The night Bureau scored five goals and totaled eight points, Dec. 13, 1988, he broke an 8-year-old Eagle record that belonged to Joe Mullen, who had a seven-point game in December 1980.
Mullen, like Bureau a former member of the Calgary Flames, is now with Pittsburgh. It's a strong reminder for Bureau. "I took a penalty on him," said Bureau, talking about Wednesday's Game 1 of the final series, in which both he and Mullen scored goals. "He's pretty tricky. It was 2-on-2, and he cut in front of me and I tried to hook him," said Bureau by phone Thursday from his Pittsburgh hotel. "He's playing pretty good."
Mullen, in 182 games as an Eagle, scored 120 goals and 237 points. Bureau, in 274 games, had 118 and 271.
Other ex-Eagles in the series are defenseman Brian Glynn and winger Shane Churla of the North Stars and Penguin center Randy Gilhen.
Bureau was the Stars' fourth-line center, with Churla one of his wingers, but Pittsburgh only plays three lines, so now Bureau alternates with Neal Broten as third-line center and Churla and his other linemate, Basil McRae, aren't playing much.
Bureau plays nearly as much as he did in Salt Lake, killing penalties and on the power play. His goal Wednesday was short-handed. "My specialty," he says. He led the IHL in short-handed goals this season with eight.
After the trade, Minnesota Coach Bob Gainey quickly put Bureau on a regular rotation plus special teams. "I couldn't believe my eyes," Bureau says. He's still got a regular shift plus special teams in the playoffs - without previous NHL playoff experience.
Bureau turns 25 Sunday, but he's the third-youngest North Star forward. "I'm like a baby here," he says.
He tried to prove himself at first by passing well, making big hits and playing strong defense. But during a recent practice, Gainey noticed asked how many goals Bureau had in Salt Lake, and he said 40. Gainey asked why he had that many. Bureau replied he shot more. "He said, `Don't be afraid to do it here, too,"' Bureau says.
Bureau's confidence soared, and so did his statistics - 3-for-3.
Suddenly, he's interviewed on television and radio, and reporters he doesn't know call his room for quotes. "I know it's part of the business, but now I can feel for all the superstars. It's kind of tiring," Bureau says, adding it's enjoyable, too. "I'm just trying to keep my feet on the ground," he says.
"I don't think I realize right now what's going on. I know I was in the minors, but we won the Turner Cup and went to the finals and semifinals, and I've always played at this time of the season, so I don't know if I realize it's the Stanley Cup yet," he says.