WORCESTER, MASS., SEPT. 23 -- The Washington Capitals left their top four defensemen at home tonight and gave the back line of the future a chance to demonstrate its skills in an exhibition against the Boston Bruins. If inexperience sometimes put the youngsters in trouble, goaltender Clint Malarchuk could be counted on to bail them out.

Malarchuk stopped 30 shots in the first two periods to keep the Capitals in contention, then they bounced back from a 2-0 deficit and won, 3-2, on Lou Franceschetti's power-play goal at 1:49 of sudden-death overtime.

"Clint Malarchuk was the reason the game was close," said Washington General Manager David Poile. "He made some acrobatic saves in those first two periods and I was delighted with the way he went the distance for us tonight."

Poile was pleased with another of his offseason newcomers, left wing Peter Sundstrom, who made his debut with Washington on the checking line with Bob Gould and Kelly Miller.

"That line was our best night all night long," Poile said. "How can I say it -- the line looked just like Gaetan {Duchesne} hadn't left it. Peter Sundstrom seemed to fit in like a T. He skated well and he handled himself well. He certainly wasn't afraid to go in the corners."

Franceschetti was fearless, too, throwing some solid checks, and he was in front of the net to put away a rebound of Greg Adams' shot and give the Capitals their first exhibition triumph in four tries. This was the fifth straight time they had tied Boston over the regulation 60 minutes, going 1-1-1 in three regular-season overtimes a year ago and finishing in a tie last week.

The Bruins were ahead after 43 minutes, 2-0, but Michal Pivonka began the Capitals' comeback when Bill Houlder's drive from the left point landed at his feet and he whipped it past goalie Bill Ranford.

Boston was two men short when Dale Hunter tied it with his third goal in three exhibitions. Hunter, holding his ice in front of the net, as usual, was able to deflect Garry Galley's drive from the left point.

A slashing penalty to Boston's Tom McCarthy in overtime led to Franceschetti's winner.

The four young Washington defenders were Houlder, Paul Cavallini, Yves Beaudoin and Grant Jennings. Poile indicated they might rotate as the No. 7 defenseman this season so that all would see considerable playing time at Binghamton.

Boston defenseman Gord Kluzak was taken to a hospital after Mike Ridley accidentally cut him in the mouth while playing the puck in the second period. Kluzak needed several stitches and lost two teeth.

The Capitals wound up two men short as a result of Ridley's major penalty, as referee Paul Stewart declined to penalize Kluzak's retaliatory slash. But Malarchuk made several sensational saves and a marginal hooking call against Boston's Greg Johnston eased the pressure.

Reggie Lemelin blocked 15 shots while shutting out Washington over the first half of the game. Lemelin could be the freebie of the year, since he was signed by Boston after Calgary chose not to renew his contract.

Capitals Notes:

The Capitals and the U.S. Olympic team, who play an exhibition at Capital Centre Friday night, have a full day of activity listed Thursday. First on the agenda is a visit to the White House. Then they will practice at the Centre, with both sessions open to the public at no charge -- free parking included. The Capitals will work out from 6 until 7:30 p.m., the Olympians from 7:45 until 9.