Bob Carpenter's two third-period goals brought the Washington Capitals a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames tonight, enabling Washington to keep its seven-point lead in the Patrick Division.

The Capitals never led until he scored his second goal of the game with 6:10 left in regulation. It was only the second time in Bob Johnson's three years as Calgary coach that the Flames lost after leading at the end of the second period.

Although Carpenter and three all-star teammates were playing their third game in three nights, and Washington had lost a tough game in Winnipeg Wednesday while Calgary was idle, the Capitals outshot the Flames, 13-5, in the third period.

"We were really tired," Carpenter said. "Their coach must have figured every period that 'Those guys are done.' But we just kept coming. After the second period, we decided there was only 20 minutes left in this game; we'd give it our all and take the day off tomorrow.

"I hope (Coach) Bryan (Murray) realizes we're in shape. Maybe we won't have to skate on off days any more."

Calgary took a 3-2 lead in the second period, outshooting Washington by 16-9. Dave Christian and Greg Adams matched the first two goals, but the Capitals were still one short when Alan Haworth drew a Calgary penalty with a sensational move five minutes into the third period. He skated past most of the Flames and had an opening toward the net, prompting Neil Sheehy to pull him down.

On the ensuing power play, Mike McEwen held the puck in at the left point and passed it along the blueline to Carpenter. Calgary's Kent Nilsson, floating in center ice, was a step too late to break it up and Carpenter took a quick slap shot. With goalie Don Edwards adroitly screened by Scott Stevens, the game was even. When the Capitals continued to apply offensive pressure, it paid off in Carpenter's 44th goal.

Paul Reinhart attempted to send the puck around behind his own net, but Mike Gartner tipped it and it went in front. Edwards dived to try to knock it up the ice, but it struck Gaetan Duchesne's pad and slid to Carpenter for an empty netter.

"We wanted that one," Carpenter said. "You could have thrown a dime over the three of us in front of that net. We knew we'd have to take a few chances if we wanted to win it -- and we needed this one. Good win!"

Gartner, who shot seven times on goal and hit a post, kept hustling to the finish despite flu. Afterward, as he was treated for a bruised tailbone, he said, "I really sucked wind out there in the third period."

This was a game the Flames figured to win, following an intensive four days of practice. They played knowing that Winnipeg had hopped past into second place in the Smythe Division by beating Washington Wednesday, but by the second period the Capitals were aware that their situation was precarious, Patrick runner-up Philadelphia having beaten Quebec, 6-3.

"We could have been blown out easily after the way we played the second and third periods last night," Murray said. "But it's a nice reputation to have, never to quit on ourselves, and we showed tonight why we've earned it. This is a tough trip and with Philly winning and sitting at home for five games, the pressure is on us. We're playing good clubs, the kind that play good offensive hockey and give us trouble."

Goalie Pat Riggin seemed weary in the third period at Winnipeg, but made an excellent 28-save effort tonight. Playing his sixth straight game, he made quality saves in tough circumstances.

"We'll continue to let Pat carry the load," Murray said. "Bob Mason may play a game or two, but realistically we're looking for Al Jensen to come back and play some before the end of the year. Pat can rest then."

Christian's 23rd goal came on a dual carom off a post and the back of Edwards' pad. It was set up by Lou Franceschetti, playing on a tender ankle, who dug the puck loose from two Flames behind the goal line. Franceschetti, owner of an 11-game point streak when he was called up from Binghamton Monday, has assists in two games with Washington.

Adams' second goal in two nights came on Larry Murphy's deflection. Until he scored in Winnipeg Wednesday, all four of his goals as a Capital had come against New Jersey.

It was a pleasant 36th birthday present for General Manager David Poile, who was the Flames' assistant general manager for 10 years before moving to Washington.

"I was feeling about 10 years older during certain parts of the game," he said.