Bob Carpenter scored two goals and Pat Riggin turned aside three shorthanded breakaways tonight as the Washington Capitals battled the Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers to a 3-3 overtime tie.
The Capitals, down 2-0 early after rookie Gord Sherven scored twice, wiped out the deficit in the last two minutes of the second period. They moved in front on Carpenter's power-play goal at 2:41 of the third and were forced to settle for one point when Mike Krushelnyski netted an extra-man score with 9:01 remaining in regulation time.
Washington definitely wasn't hanging on in this one, despite the Oilers' status as the only unbeaten team in the National Hockey League. The Capitals had the only three shots of the five-minute extra period to outshoot Edmonton, 47-33.
Riggin's magnificent performance when the Capitals had a two-man advantage while trailing, 2-0, late in the second period turned the game around. He stopped Jari Kurri and Wayne Gretzky on breakaways before Coach Bryan Murray called a timeout to reorganize his power play.
"A friend told me last night that their penalty killers have been doing that," Riggin said. "Sometimes you have a tendency to relax a bit when your team's on a power play, because you don't expect the other team to score, but I didn't let up tonight, not even when we were two men up. I was in this game for 65 minutes."
After the timeout, Washington got a break. Carpenter skated in from the right-wing corner and tried to pass to the point. The puck struck defenseman Paul Coffey's skate and rebounded right to Carpenter, who shot at goalie Andy Moog. Doug Jarvis, in a rare power-play appearance, was in the slot to net the rebound and cut the deficit to 2-1.
"I don't play on the power play often, usually just in situations like that, when it's important for us to win the faceoff," said Jarvis, who was unable to remember his last extra-man score.
Jarvis' goal came nine seconds before the expiration of the first Oilers penalty. Not long after the second ended, Carpenter outfought defenseman Lee Fogolin for a rebound of a Larry Murphy shot and put the tying goal behind Moog.
Early in the third period, referee Bob Hall once more tagged the Oilers with overlapping penalties. Edmonton had regained the use of one player when Carpenter scored his second goal of the night.
Craig Laughlin knocked Kevin Lowe off the puck behind the Edmonton net and passed to Carpenter in the slot. Carpenter settled the puck with his skate and drilled it past Moog for his sixth goal of the season, fifth in the last four games.
"It's a play me and Mike use in that situation," Carpenter said. "I'm in front of the net if he's behind it and it's up to me to get it when he throws it out. I got it in my skates, stopped it and put it underneath the goalie."
Washington maintained considerable offensive pressure, firing eight shots at Moog in less than five minutes without managing another score.
Then Edmonton got rolling and Bob Gould pulled down Kurri during a frantic barrage to give the Oilers a power play.
Although Riggin made four saves during the manpower shortage, Edmonton finally broke through as Krushelnyski converted Gretzky's pass from behind the goal line. It was Gretzky's second assist, giving him 23 points in eight games, at least one point in each.
Washington had the better opportunities during the rest of regulation, with Moog blocking a hard drive by Scott Stevens four seconds before the buzzer.
In the extra period, Gartner's attempt for a winner struck Moog's goalie stick at the top of the shaft and caromed wide. Edmonton, although unable to put a shot on goal, had a chance when Anderson took the puck in front and tried to spin before shooting, only to have Riggin knock the puck off his stick.
It was Edmonton that applied the heavy pressure early in the game and Sherven's first goal, off Dave Semenko's pass, left Washington behind after one period for the first time this season.
Both Mark Messier and Paul Coffey hit posts in the period and on another occasion, after Riggin had blocked a shot by Gretzky, defenseman Darren Veitch moved into the crease to stop Kurri's rebound.
Riggin forced Messier wide on a shorthanded break in the second period before a Gretzky pass found Sherven alone in the left-wing circle for the power-play goal that made it 2-0.
The Capitals have no time to reflect on their shootout with the NHL's highest scoring team, because they move on to Calgary Thursday to meet the Flames, who rank second. Blues goalie Rick Wamsley is out of sight, but Terry Johnson manages to thwart Mark Reed of Bruins.