Goalie Gary Inness made a handle save of a backhander by Butch Goring with five seconds remaining tonight to enable the Washington Capitals to escape with a 3-3 tie against the Los Angeles Kings. Inness blocked 37 shots as the Capitals' winless streak reached seven games.

Dennis Maruk scored the tying goal for Washington with 8:37 to play, then lifted the puck high over the crossbar into the stands on a clean breakaway with three minutes left.

Goals by Dave Taylor and Bert Wilson lifted the Kings into a 2-0 lead in a first period every bit as one-sided at the shot totals of 18-3. The Capitals' problem might have been jet lag, since they appeared to be smoewhere near Salt Lake City during the first 20 minutes.

Inness made four saves in two minutes, then his teammates received some shots of a different variety. The Capitals' Ryan Walter, bumped by Randy Holt, retaliated with fists and took a beating. Then the Ings' Glenn Goldup assaulted Dennis Hextall for reasons apparently anchored in the past.

Hextall avoided retaliation while he waited for the linesmen to pull Goldup off, but they took so long that Washington's Bob Giard arrived first in unnecessary support. Hextall giving up hope of escaping a penalty eventually punched back and drew a major. Goldup received a major and minor. Girard was ejected as third man in an altercation.

The Capital power play ended when Washington's Tom Rowe, whistled offside on a breakaway, berated the linesmen and received an unsportsmanlike conduct minor. Rowe was still watching when Taylor started the scorting with a power-play goal at 4:48.

Marcel Dionne set up Charlie Simmer, whose shot was blocked by Inness. The puck remained loose in front, and Taylor whacked it into the open net for his 34th goal.

Whilson scored his first goal in 18 games at 7:43 Inness went out and down to block Wilson's shot. Syl Apps picked up the puck and skated around the fallen Inness into the goal mouth. Maruk blocked his shot but Wilson netted the rebound.

The Kings buzzed around the Washington net and the Capitals struggled like sleepwalkers to get the puck over the blue line. On one occasion, defense Robert Picard sent a pass to Dionne in front, but Inness made a chest save.

As soon as Walter and Holt left the penalty box, they became embroiled again and were chased with their second majors. About the only other aggressivenss by a Capital was displayed by Paul Mulvey, who dumped Richard Mulhern with a thumping check.

Early in the second period, Walter rammed Holt into the boards and Holt retaliated by swinging his stick, for which he was penalized. Walter's only penance was serving on the ensuing power play, most of which was passed in Washington ice with Picard and Rick Green endangering Inness with off-target passes.

After Bert Wilson scored a one-sided fistic decision over Washington's Yvon Labre, the Capitals suddenly began playing the hockey of which they are capable, and pulled even before the second intermission on scores by Bob Sirois and Rowe.

Before by turnabout, Inness was deked out of his net by Taylor, who three times tried to shove the puck past, only to be foiled by Picard, on his knees in the crease. It brought back memories of the early years, when critics suggested the Capitals pile up bodies in the cage and let the opposition shoot away.

Jack Lynch led the resurgence, firing away from the right point. Los Angeles goalie Mario Lessard blocked a Lynch slap shot and Sirois' rebound, then a Sirois deflection of a Lynch slapper. Finally, Sirois lifted that rebound over Lessard at 8:57 for his 26th goal. It ended a shoutout streak of 109 minutes 4 seconds for Lessard, who shut out Vancouver on Monday.

Lynch skated in from the right point and dropped a pass to Rowe, who scored from the right-wing circle at 17:53 for his 24th goal.

Inness had played brilliantly to maintain the tie, but he was too intent on helping Green shove Wilson from he crease area when Simmer sent the Kings ahead at 7:50 of the third period. Simmer took Richard Mulhern's pass in the slot and fired in one motion for his eighth goal.

Maruk tied it again at 11.23 with his 24th goal, his 10th point in five games. Maruk blocked a slap shot by Doug Halward, carried the puck into Los Angeles ice and waited for his teammates. Then, faking a pass, he used Halward as a screen for a 30-foot scoring drive.