A sensational 44-save performance by goalie Dave Parro snapped the Washington Capitals' 14-game winless string tonight. Parro earned his second NHL shutout and the ninth in Capitals' history as Washington whipped the Hartford Whalers, 4-0.

"Everything was going my way," Parro said. "I always seemed to be in the right place, I was covering the puck and I was cutting off their passes. You wish every day you were like that.

"But the big thing is the two points. It's good to see a lot of smiles in the room and guys joking around. It's been a long time."

The Capitals' only other victory came on Oct. 10, by a 6-3 score over Detroit at Capital Centre. They lost the next 13 before tying the Red Wings Friday night, 3-3.

Mike Gartner recorded the only goal Parro needed after just 78 seconds tonight. Darren Veitch sent the puck in from the right point, then Dennis Maruk outfought the Whalers' Rick Meagher behind the goal line and fed Gartner in the right-wing circle. Gartner, a 48-goal scorer last season, has frequently been off target because a bruised right hand makes it difficult to grip his stick, but this shot was perfect for his fourth goal of the season.

Much of the second period was played shorthanded because of 13 penalties. Each team was a man down as Washington scored twice, with Wes Jarvis netting his first of the season and Timo Blomqvist his first in the NHL.

Jarvis, recalled from Hershey Oct. 30, threaded a shot into the far corner from the right-wing circle at 6:58, with Maruk screening goalie Greg Millen.

Later, Ryan Walter took the puck away from Hartford defenseman Paul Shmyr. Walter lost control as he tried to cut around defender Mark Howe, but Blomquist hustled in to whip the puck under the crossbar at 9:29.

Maruk wrapped up the scoring in the third period with his 11th goal, stealing the puck from Hartford's Rick MacLeish and beating Millen with a low shot on the stick side. It was Washington's first shorthanded goal of the season.

Long before that, the Whalers had resorted to head hunting in their frustration. Hartford, although earning seven ties, has won only twice and the Whalers obviously were disappointed to see the Capitals extend their perfect record here to 3-0.

As the second period ended, Hartford's Chris Kotsopoulos and Washington's Rick Green became tangled in a bear hug and all the players on both teams surrounded them. Washington Coach Bryan Murray tried to help the officials disperse all hands and, as the teams returned to the ice for the third period, he became involved in a shouting match with Ricky Ley, Hartford's assistant coach.

Players from both teams and the linesmen intervened to calm things down.

"I had told their guys at the end of the second period, 'Why don't you get off the ice and stop that stuff?' " Murray said. "When there was just one second to go and they started to mix it up, I figured they were just trying to stir things up because they were behind.

"When we came out, he (Ley) said, 'The next time you say things like that, don't hide behind the bench.' I said I was ready to accommodate him any time."

The victory lifted Murray's record to .500, at 1-1-1, and he said he was relieved to forget the winless streak.

"I was really concerned in the first period, because they were playing well and they had good chances," Murray said. "But Parro stood the test well and gave us the chance to get rolling. I thought we improved as the game went on and were awfully disciplined in the third period.

"The guys think they've won the Stanley Cup. I'll let them celebrate a little before I bring them back to earth. We still have to get a couple more guys contributing."

"That's a piano off our backs," said defenseman Jay Johnston.

"We've got a streak going," Green said.

"We're backing each other up and we're getting three or four guys on net coverage. We're getting into that system," Walter said.

"Give full marks to Bryan Murray -- and Parro was fantastic," Jarvis said.

The only negative factor was a badly bruised left arm suffered by winger Bengt Gustafsson, who was cross-checked by Warren Miller late in the first period and did not return.