Bob Gould's goal on a rebound 1:49 into overtime gave the Washington Capitals a 5-4 exhibition victory over the Hartford Whalers tonight.

The Capitals were not pleased, however, after getting the news that right winger Bryan Erickson had suffered a broken finger when slashed by former Capital Torrie Robertson. Erickson is expected to be sidelined for three to four weeks.

In overtime, Gould's goal spoiled a three-goal comeback by Hartford. The Whalers tied the game with 31 seconds left in regulation when Bobby Crawford, inserted for goalie Greg Millen, scored. Defenseman Chris Kotsopoulos scored 6 1/2 minutes earlier for the Whalers (3-1-1).

"It upsets me that we had breakdowns on their last two goals, but, to be fair, we're without some of our top defensemen because of all the games we've been playing," said Capitals Coach Bryan Murray, whose team is 6-2-0.

"It's great for the confidence, though, when you can win games like this. We've had a chance to evaluate a lot of young players and, in the long run, that has got to help."

A 25-foot slap shot by former U.S. Olympian David Jensen with 3:13 to play in the second period started the Whalers' comeback. Until then, it appeared the Capitals' four-goal second period -- two of those goals coming on shots by Craig Laughlin -- would be enough.

A ragged and scoreless first period was highlighted by sprawling saves by Capitals goaltender Pat Riggin on shots by Crawford and Mark Johnson.

Washington scored three goals in the opening 7:48 of the second period, the last two coming in 69 seconds.

Laughlin caught the Whalers' starting goaltender, Steve Weeks, napping at 2:01 to give Washington a 1-0 lead. Paul Gardner took advantage of a Hartford giveaway to score his first goal as a Capital at 7:48, and, 1:09 later, Jim McGeough got his third goal of the preseason after Weeks mishandled the puck behind the net.

Johnson's goal on a rebound made it 3-1 at 8:24, but Laughlin scored his second goal of the night to again give Washington a three-goal lead at 13:46.

The Whalers then picked up the pace, eventually tying the game on Crawford's goal, which came 18 seconds after Millen had been pulled.

But Gould was there in overtime, converting McGeough's shot.