Bob Kelly, hard-nosed left winger acquired by the Capitals from Philadelphia in August, made the first goal for his new team one to remember.

Kelly, who had gone through the first seven games without denting the net, scored at 7:56 of the final period tonight to give the Caps a 3-3 tie with the St. Louis Blues, the team to which they lost a 3-2 decision only 24 hours earlier in Washington.

The goal was Kelly's first of the season and the 300th point in his NHL career.

But the evening really belonged to a couple of hot goalies -- Wayne Stephenson of the Caps and Michael Liut of the Blues -- who continuously blunted the opposition throughout the night.

Stephenson turned aside 30 of the Blues' 33 efforts -- several in remarkable fashion -- while Liut, the main reason for the Blues' rapid improvement, was outstanding for the second straight night.

The tie gave the Caps, who are idle until Wednesday night in Los Angeles, a 3-3-2 record while the Blues are 5-2-2, the best start in their 14-year history.

Mike Gartner, who Friday was named the NHL's player of the week for last weekend's eight-point spree, tallied his seventh goal of the season at 11:23 of the opening period to open the scoring.

The tight-checking Capitals didn't allow a shot on goal by the Blues until 7:10 was gone in the period.

The Caps seemed to have control with their tight defensive style, when the Blues suddenly struck.

Larry Patey stole the puck from Yvon Labre at the Washington blue line. And even though Labre hooked the Blues' center, Patey managed to wrist a shot past Stephenson at 15:33.

But the play wasn't over. Patey rammed Labre with a cross-check. Gartner, coming to his teammate's defense, went after Patey and the two scuffled briefly.

When it was over, Gartner was given two minutes for roughing and Patey two for roughing and two for cross-checking Labre.

But the Caps, who couldn't captialize on six power plays Friday night, couldn't score against last year's top penalty-killing team in four more efforts tonight.

The Blues, meanwhile, managed to pull ahead on a second-period power play of their own.

With only ten seconds remaining on Pat Ribble's holding penalty, Wayne Babych scored his sixth goal of the year on a pretty pass from Bernie Ferderko at 10:01.

When the Caps got another power-play attempt at 11:24 of the second period, Liut came up with several key saves -- robbing Jean Pronovost from point-blank range and then sliding across to thwart Wes Jarvis.

Stephenson exchanged the favors moments later by stopping Babych in close and then smothering Babych's rebound.

However, Jorgen Pettersson, the Blues' new import from Sweden, gave the Blues a two-goal lead at 16:28, firing home a 10-footer that Stephenson got a piece of but couldn't stop.

But only 16 seconds later, the Caps cut the margin to 3-2 when Ryan Walter took a pass from Rick Green in front of a maze of players and beat Liut.

The Blues tried to protect their one-goal lead as the third period started and appeared to have the Caps befuddled, until Dennis Maruk, who only moments earlier was stopped on a two-on-one break, this time passed off to Kelly, who fired in the equalizer -- a shot he and the Caps can savor.