Dennis Maruk and Bobby Carpenter scored in the last three minutes tonight to lift the Washington Capitals to a 5-3 victory over the Calgary Flames, after a series of penalties helped the Flames wipe out a 3-0 deficit.

Maruk converted Ryan Walter's pass from behind the Calgary net with 2:23 left for his second goal of the game and 43rd of the season. Carpenter then beat Calgary's Paul Reinhart to the puck after Mike Gartner lofted it down the ice, put a deke on goalie Reggie Lemelin and slid his 18th goal behind Lemelin.

Maruk had played little in the third period, because the Capitals' penalty killers had to do most of the work. The Flames scored on two power plays, then tied the game while each team was a man short.

Jim Peplinski produced that tying goal with 6:32 left, sending the puck between the pads of goalie Dave Parro from the right wing circle. It came seconds after Gartner had been pulled down at the other end by Steve Konroyd, without a penalty call, and the Capitals could have fallen back on excuses.

Instead, Parro made an excellent save on Kent Nilsson to preserve the tie, and Maruk shattered it.

"I told Maruk, 'Your line's got to do it for us; go out and turn it around,' " said Washington Coach Bryan Murray, who also won his last game in the Stampede Corral as coach of the Regina Pats two seasons ago.

"I hadn't played much, because we were using the penalty killers, and I figured if I got a chance, I had to make the most of it," Maruk said. "Ryan made the play and I waited to look at the situation. His (Lemelin's) glove side was open and I went for it and he moved his arm, it hit his arm and went in."

Moments before Maruk scored, Walter had knocked a puck down with his stick close to shoulder level. Referee Bruce Hood waved off any violation and was surrounded by protesting Flames after the goal was scored.

Parro made 15 saves in the final period as Calgary outshot Washington by 18-9. Obviously, the Flames were responding to the boos of many in the crowd of 7,234, which serenaded them en route to the dressing room after the second period. At that point, Washington led, 3-0, and had a 29-14 shot margin.

"They kept coming in the third period," said Parro, who suffered a dislocated shoulder in his last game here a year ago. This visit was much more pleasant, as his mother saw him emerge the No. 2 star while watching him play for the first time in the NHL.

Maruk opened the scoring at 35 seconds of period No. 2 on a setup by Chris Valentine, similar to the one Walter gave him later.

It became 2-0 when Maruk stole the puck from Peplinski, skated down the right side and made a perfect goal-mouth feed to Gaetan Duchesne.

Glen Currie's deflection of a drive by Paul MacKinnon increased the margin to 3-0 before the second period ended.

A holding penalty against Randy Holt, who claimed swan-diving Lanny McDonald had grabbed his wrist, opened the way for the Flames in the third period and Willi Plett took advantage when a bouncing puck wound up at his feet.

Peplinski converted Guy Chouinard's rink-wide pass with Valentine off for tripping to make it 3-2.

"That's a big one; no more negative thoughts around here," Walter said later, as the Capitals moved within 10 points of prime target Pittsburgh.

In other games: Steve Shutt's 350th career goal helped Montreal to its 2,000 NHL victory, and 10th in a row, 4-2, over visiting Pittsburgh; the New York Islanders also made it 10 in a row, beating host Chicago, 8-2, as Mike Bossy had his 41st goal and three assists; Bill Barber scored with 35 seconds left and Ken Linseman added an empty-netter as Philadelphia beat visiting Buffalo, 6-4; Ivan Hlinka scored the second penalty sho goal of the game (Thomas Gradin had the other) with 30 seconds remaining to give Vancouver a 4-4 tie at Detroit; Rick Middleton broke a tie early in the third period as visiting Boston topped Minnesota, 4-2, and Los Angeles tied visiting Quebec, 4-4, on third-period goals by John Paul Kelly and Marcel Dionne.