The Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins waltzed through tonight's NHL game at the Civic Arena and, when the last step was completed, the result was a 4-4 tie.
Chris Valentine scored twice for Washington and Mike Gartner and Rick Green once each as the Capitals finished with a 40-29 edge in shots on goal. The Penguins, who beat out the Capitals for the final playoff spot in the Patrick Division, got goals from Peter Lee, Rod Schutt, Greg Hotham and Kevin McClelland.
"On the part of Pittsburgh, they probably figured they had nothing to prove," Capitals Coach Bryan Murray said. "On our part, it was our first game since we've been eliminated, so we were a little down. There was a fair amount of pushing and shoving, but not a lot of intensity until we turned it on in the third."
The Capitals visit Toronto Saturday before ending the season at home Sunday against Montreal.
Washington trailed, 3-1, entering the third period, but goals from Gartner (his 35th) and Valentine (his 29th) tied the game. Lee then scored off a rebound by Marc Chorney at the 7:11 mark to make it 4-3 Pittsburgh.
Green tied the game for the final time with a spectacular power-play goal at 13:09. After taking the puck from Capital goalie Al Jensen, he skated without interference to the Pittsburgh blueline before slipping the puck through Chorney's legs and skating in unchecked on Pittsburgh goaltender Gary Edwards for his third goal of the season.
"We've been accused of not playing well in the third period lately," Murray said. "The last couple of games it may have been true. But tonight we showed intensity in trying to get back. We scored some nice goals, and Rick scored a great goal to tie it.
"I definitely think we controlled the play," Murray said. "Edwards made some good stops, some lucky ones when he didn't see the puck. I was happy with the way we moved the puck around."
Murray experimented a bit, scratching regular defensemen Doug Hicks and Terry Murray to give Lee Norwood, Timo Blomqvist and Greg Theberge plenty of work. Rookie sensation Bobby Carpenter also played some defense late in the game, with both teams down a man, and did a creditable job.