The Washington Capitals survived relentless pressure by the New York Rangers and pulse-pounding noise generated by 17,426 spectators to record a 4-3 victory tonight in another of those win-or-die contests that figure to fill the remaining schedule.

Trailing, 4-1, with six minutes left, the Rangers rallied on goals by Ron Duguay and Dave Maloney to pull within one with 1:53 on the clock. But the Ryan Walter-Dennis Maruk-Mike Gartner line, rested only briefly by a charged timeout, generated enough forechecking that Ranger goalie Steve Weeks was able to leave the net for only eight seconds.

Dennis Maruk scored one goal and had one assist to become the Capitals' career leader in goals (119), assists (157) and points (276), shattering ties with Guy Charron in each department.

A key call came with 30 seconds left, as Ranger Reijo Ruotsalainen leaped at the Washington blueline and batted the puck, trying to keep it inside. Instead, he was ruled offside by linesman Gord Broseker. Ranger captain Barry Beck shoved Broseker, then pushed the other linesman, Kevin Collins, when he intervened.

Beck, who returned Wednesday from a six-game suspension, received New York's third unsportsmanlike conduct minor of the game, as well as a misconduct, and the Rangers' five-game unbeaten streak ended when they were unable to put another shot on goal.

"It was a clear offside, and it's really something for the captain of the team to get thrown out like that with 30 seconds left," said Washington Coach Bryan Murray, who was standing at the blueline. The replay showed both of Ruotsalainen's skates outside the blueline.

"We were overconfident after beating a couple of fine teams (the Islanders and Montreal)," said Ranger Coach Herb Brooks. "We weren't mentally prepared. We became frustrated and showed a lack of composure."

Even with the victory, the Capitals remained in jeopardy, 10 points behind the fourth-place Rangers. Better 10 than 14, however, and there are 41 games to go.

"We've got ourselves in a nice hole, but there isn't one guy here who doesn't think we can get out of it," said Gartner, who scored a goal for the sixth straight game. "We've got a long haul and it's not very bright, but if we can see a little daylight we'll keep walking."

A power-play score by Mark Pavelich sent the Rangers in front and Washington did not put a shot on goal until 9:40 had elapsed. The shooter on that occasion was Maruk, set up by Walter, and Maruk backhanded the puck into the net after deking Weeks.

The man who put Washington ahead to stay at 8:40 of the second period was Tony Cassolato, scoring his first NHL goal in his 17th game over three seasons. Cassolato, called up Friday from Hershey, slipped behind Beck and converted Lou Franceschetti's perfect goal-mouth pass.

"I was starting to wonder if I'd ever get one here," said Cassolato, who scored 48 goals at Hershey last season. "I didn't get any breaks before, but this time Louie made a perfect play and I couldn't miss."

Gartner's shorthanded score, off a Maruk setup, made it 3-1, after Ruotsalainen lost the puck in the Ranger end. Then, at 12:41 of the third period, Franceschetti's headman pass freed Bobby Carpenter for a breakaway goal behind defenseman Dave Maloney. The assist marked Franceschetti's fourth NHL point and all have come against the Rangers.

Few would have believed that Carpenter's goal would eventually become the game winner, but the Rangers refused to quit and only some good stops by goalie Dave Parro, who had 34 saves, kept them from pulling out at least a tie.

"They came pretty good," Murray said. "They jammed the net and knocked our defensemen off the puck. It's hard to stand anybody up with that kind of momentum flowing. Parro played excellent and the Maruk line was quite good, at both ends of the ice."

On the negative side, Greg Capitals Stave Off Ranger RAlly for 4-3 Win By Robert Fachet Washington Post Staff Writer

NEW YORK, Jan. 3 -- The Washington Capitals survived relentless pressure by the New York Rangers and pulse-pounding noise generated by 17,426 spectators to record a 4-3 victory tonight in another of those win-or-die contests that figure to fill the remaining schedule.

Trailing, 4-1, with six minutes left, the Rangers rallied on goals by Ron Duguay and Dave Maloney to pull within one with 1:53 on the clock. But the Ryan Walter-Dennis Maruk-Mike Gartner line, rested only briefly by a charged timeout, generated enough forechecking that Ranger goalie Steve Weeks was able to leave the net for only eight seconds.

Dennis Maruk scored one goal and had one assist to become the Capitals' career leader in goals (119), assists (157) and points (276), shattering ties with Guy Charron in each department.

A key call came with 30 seconds left, as Ranger Reijo Ruotsalainen leaped at the Washington blueline and batted the puck, trying to keep it inside. Instead, he was ruled offside by linesman Gord Broseker. Ranger captain Barry Beck shoved Broseker, then pushed the other linesman, Kevin Collins, when he intervened.

Beck, who returned Wednesday from a six-game suspension, received New York's third unsportsmanlike conduct minor of the game, as well as a misconduct, and the Rangers' five-game unbeaten streak ended when they were unable to put another shot on goal.

"It was a clear offside, and it's really something for the captain of the team to get thrown out like that with 30 seconds left," said Washington Coach Bryan Murray, who was standing at the blueline. The replay showed both of Ruotsalainen's skates outside the blueline.

"We were overconfident after beating a couple of fine teams (the Islanders and Montreal)," said Ranger Coach Herb Brooks. "We weren't mentally prepared. We became frustrated and showed a lack of composure."

Even with the victory, the Capitals remained in jeopardy, 10 points behind the fourth-place Rangers. Better 10 than 14, however, and there are 41 games to go.

"We've got ourselves in a nice hole, but there isn't one guy here who doesn't think we can get out of it," said Gartner, who scored a goal for the sixth straight game. "We've got a long haul and it's not very bright, but if we can see a little daylight we'll keep walking."

A power-play score by Mark Pavelich sent the Rangers in front and Washington did not put a shot on goal until 9:40 had elapsed. The shooter on that occasion was Maruk, set up by Walter, and Maruk backhanded the puck into the net after deking Weeks.

The man who put Washington ahead to stay at 8:40 of the second period was Tony Cassolato, scoring his first NHL goal in his 17th game over three seasons. Cassolato, called up Friday from Hershey, slipped behind Beck and converted Lou Franceschetti's perfect goal-mouth pass.

"I was starting to wonder if I'd ever get one here," said Cassolato, who scored 48 goals at Hershey last season. "I didn't get any breaks before, but this time Louie made a perfect play and I couldn't miss."

Gartner's shorthanded score, off a Maruk setup, made it 3-1, after Ruotsalainen lost the puck in the Ranger end. Then, at 12:41 of the third period, Franceschetti's headman pass freed Bobby Carpenter for a breakaway goal behind defenseman Dave Maloney. The assist marked Franceschetti's fourth NHL point and all have come against the Rangers.

Few would have believed that Carpenter's goal would eventually become the game winner, but the Rangers refused to quit and only some good stops by goalie Dave Parro, who had 34 saves, kept them from pulling out at least a tie.

"They came pretty good," Murray said. "They jammed the net and knocked our defensemen off the puck. It's hard to stand anybody up with that kind of momentum flowing. Parro played excellent and the Maruk line was quite good, at both ends of the ice."

On the negative side, Greg Theberge suffered a groin pull that figures to put the laboring Washington defense under even more pressure as the Capitals head for Quebec and a Tuesday date with the speedy Stastnys. Theberge suffered a groin pull that figures to put the laboring Washington defense under even more pressure as the Capitals head for Quebec and a Tuesday date with the speedy Stastnys.