Bobby Carpenter of the Capitals and Paul Mulvey of the Pittsburgh Penguins had some things to prove today, and both succeeded during a 3-3 exhibition tie.
Carpenter, the object of special attention from various Penguins, exchanged punches with Steve Gatzos and generally used his stick and body to return any knocks.
Mulvey showed unaccustomed skating and shooting ability as he went down the right side and accurately directed a backhander behind goalie Dave Parro to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead early in the third period.
Orest Kindrachuk, whose acquisition by the Caps as a free agent led to Mulvey's trade in compensation, then used a power-play rebound for the final score. Mulvey had a chance for further heroism as he deked his way past defenseman Paul MacKinnon, but his shot was smothered in front.
Pittsburgh's Pat Price took a run at Carpenter to incite the most violent episode of the afternoon. Mike Gartner took on Price, with both being ejected, and Carpenter held his own in a prolonged battle with Gatzos.
Later, as Carpenter was being hassled by Paul Gardner, he turned and flattened the veteran Pittsburgh center with a solid check.
"In Sweden, Bobby proved he could play as far as skating and stick-handling go," said Washington Coach Gary Green. "Now he's trying to make the adjustment to the NHL. He's got spunk behind him and he's going to show everybody he can't be pushed around.
"There's a question mark in his mind he has to answer himself: 'Am I strong enough? Can I handle the physical stuff?' I think he got a yes answer today."
Carpenter said he had been prepared for a rough day.
"I knew it was going to be a physical game," he said. "I don't want them to think they can run me out of the building."
"Anybody who tries to run him is going to eat that stick," said Pittsburgh Coach Eddie Johnston. "You're not going to bother him. He's got a mean streak in him and that's why he'll be a super player. He shuts guys off, does a lot of little things. That was a good move Washington made drafting him."
Johnston also thinks the Penguins made a good move in acquiring Mulvey.
"It's just a matter of giving him some confidence," Johnston said. "Every day of training camp, he's come on."
"E.J. works with me and teaches me," Mulvey said. "He's getting me moving with the puck. I'm getting my game back, where I have some confidence that I can do things and I'm not afraid to try."