Last night at Capital Centre, a hockey player was thrown out of a game he didn't play in, three players spent more time in the press box than on the ice and 94 minutes of penalties were called during an intermission.

"They started it," said Philadelphia defenseman Glen Cochrane, who was thrown out before playing a second.

"I don't know who started it," Washington left winger Lou Franceschetti said. "I was just trying to grab anyone close to me."

He was thrown out, too.

"I don't know what happened," referee Andy Van Hellemond said. "I'm just supposed to stand and watch."

He threw them out.

For the Washington Capitals, the fight went better than the game, won by the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-2.

The main event was a draw. To set the scene, the first period had just ended, the Flyers leading, 2-1.

The teams had seen enough of each other in the past 24 hours to know which individuals they weren't particularly fond of. And as the players began skating toward the same end of the ice to head for the locker rooms, the bell rang for "Friday Night at the Fights."

In this corner, from the Nation's Capital, Sly Scott Stevens. And in the other corner, from the City of Brotherly Love, Peter (Zapper) Zezel.

Stevens, observers said, gave Zezel a two-handed shove on the back. Zezel shot right back, grabbing Stevens' jersey.

Fifteen minutes later, they left the ice.

Franceschetti dived in, trying to protect Stevens. Philadelphia's Ed Hospodar tore after Franceschetti.

"He's 30 pounds heavier than I am," Franceschetti said later. "I was trying to find someone lighter."

At this point, everyone on the ice found a partner, somewhat like junior high dancing class. Although the Capitals haven't fought like this in years and the Flyers have cleaned up their act, they knew the routine.

The most interesting pairing was Philadelphia's Brad McCrimmon and Washington's Alan Haworth, who has a sore left shoulder. They hugged a while, but started moving away from the pack, closing in on the blueline. Soon, they were pulling each other's jerseys off, throwing punches.

The capacity crowd, a bit bloodthirsty, roared in delight.

Hulk Hogan would have been proud.

"It just happened," McCrimmon said later from the press box, where he sat with Hospodar and Cochrane. "It was just a fight. Nothing big."

The officials had their backs turned on the McCrimmon-Haworth duet.

"I just tried to stay with the original fight," linesman Ron Finn said. "If that ends, you can turn around and go from there. It never ended."

Meanwhile, Franceschetti was choking under a pile near the goal.

"Hospodar was trying to pull my shirt over my head and get in a few uppercuts," he said. "He was choking me."

But Franceschetti, who with Haworth was thrown out for the Capitals, was not about to quit. He explained. It's a question of valor.

"You just can't back down," he said. "There are 18,000 people and your coach watching, and it would get around the league if you stopped and didn't fight. Guys would just walk over you around the league if you stopped."

That feeling permeated the ice.

"I didn't do anything wrong," said Cochrane, who wondered if he would get credit for a game in league statistics for his efforts. "I didn't get carried away."

Finally, when everyone grew tired, they just quit.

Did it affect the game? Washington Coach Bryan Murray, for one, said he noticed a change in the last two periods.

"There was not that much contact after that."