he Edmonton Oilers sent 51 shots at Washington goalie Dave Parro tonight and enough got through despite Parro's strong effort to give the Oilers a 5-3 victory.
Matti Hagman's deflection of a Paul Coffey shot ended a 3-3 tie with 5:54 left and Coffey settled it 31 seconds later with his 27th goal, a 30-foot drive on which Parro was screened.
Oiler superstar Wayne Gretzky, who lay on the ice for a while after taking a solid second-period shot from Lee Norwood, rose and scored his 70th goal on the same shift. He later added two assists for 155 points this season.
"It knocked the wind out of me," Gretzky said. "It's a frightening feeling. I knew he was there and I kind of knew it was going to happen. I kind of yelled for help. It was a clean hit, but I just protected the wrong place."
"I knew he would cut into the middle, because one of our guys was forcing him there," Norwood said. "I just tried to get in his way. He has so many moves you can't try to run over him. It just turned out that way."
Gretzky took a pass from Jari Kurri and beat Parro on a breakaway to create a 1-1 tie, while most eyes were on the other end of the ice, watching Oiler Garry Lariviere punching Washington's Dennis Maruk in the back of the head. After Gretzky scored, Chris Valentine argued long and loud and vainly with referee Bruce Hood.
"He said Dennis gave him a shot, so they were all even," Valentine said. "All even, when they scored. That's what's so frustrating."
Edmonton set a club record with 22 shots in the second period, but the only other one to slip past Parro came as Dave Lumley took the puck away from defender Darren Veitch at the post to Parro's right, then steered it into the net.
Mike Gartner received credit for the goal that lifted Washington into a 2-2 tie before the period ended, Edmonton defenseman Lee Fogolin shoving the puck into his own net while trying to clear Gartner's rebound from the crease.
Washington took the lead, 3-2, on Maruk's 44th goal, a short-handed effort at 21 seconds of the third period. Maruk poked the puck away from Edmonton's Risto Siltanen, carried it over three lines, faked Coffey out of position and lined the puck over the left shoulder of goalie Ron Low.
Parro stopped a breakaway by Coffey to preserve the lead and, with Gartner off for hooking, made the save of the night. A shot by Siltanen struck the rear boards and caromed out to Lumley just outside the crease. He swatted it toward a seemingly vacant area, but Parro kicked it away with his left skate.
It was the last hurrah for the Washington goalie. Before Gartner could return, Mark Messier sent the tying goal into the net from an acute angle along the goal line at Parro's right.
"He was playing pass and he had his stick out to block it and the puck got between his legs," Messier said. "It's too bad for his sake it wasn't a prettier goal that beat him, the way he played. But we knew if we kept shooting something would go in."
Before the tie was snapped, Parro blocked a Lumley shot and somehow used his blocker, after losing his stick, to bat away a Gretzky rebound while falling backward into the net.
Hagman finally gave the Oilers the lead for good, deflecting Coffey's shot from the left-wing boards. It was his 20th goal, giving Edmonton eight 20-goal men already this season. Parro was screened when Coffey settled it not long after.
The 51 shots were high for the season against the Capitals, seven more than Parro stopped in a 4-0 shutout at Hartford. Al Jensen also faced 44 in a 3-1 loss at Boston.