Some folks with little interest in hockey came to Capital Centre last night to watch the Mike Tyson-Tyrell Biggs fight on Telscreen. The Washington Capitals and Hartford Whalers thoughtfully provided them with an unscheduled undercard.

When the last glove, broken stick and trace of blood had been cleared from the ice, the Capitals were 6-2 winners on the scoreboard and had climbed out of the Patrick Division cellar. Left alone at the bottom was Philadelphia, last season's division champion.

Hartford, first in the Adams Division a year ago, has lost all five of its games while scoring a total of eight goals, and might be reconsidering the strange strategy it pursued last night.

Bengt Gustafsson scored twice for the Capitals, who will face the New York Rangers at Capital Centre tonight. Peter Sundstrom, Paul Cavallini, Dave Christian and Mike Gartner also connected against rookie Peter Sidorkiewicz, making his NHL debut. Gartner now has seven goals, at least one in each game.

Kevin Dineen scored both goals for Hartford, which was assessed 76 penalty minutes to Washington's 59.

The Whalers did not dress wingers Sylvain Turgeon and John Anderson, two of their better scorers. Instead, they sent out Dave Williams, the all-time NHL penalty king whose career total reached 3,894 minutes, and Shane Churla, who last season accumulated 327 penalty minutes and one goal for Hartford and Binghamton.

The reasoning for this, according to Coach Jack Evans, was that Anderson and Turgeon "are not playing the way I'm used to seeing them and, with the lineup Washington had, there were people in there {Lou Franceschetti and Ed Kastelic} we had to match up with."

Actually, Kastelic was scheduled to sit this one out, with David Jensen making his season debut, but Washington Coach Bryan Murray said, "I changed the lineup because I saw what they were putting in."

Ten seconds into his first shift, Williams cross-checked Dale Hunter in the back of the head without getting caught. Ten minutes into the game, Washington was ahead, 3-0, so Evans sent Williams and Churla out onto the ice with Ray Ferraro. Murray responded with Franceschetti, Kastelic and Michal Pivonka.

Churla and Franceschetti quickly became embattled along the boards and Kastelic waded in to help Franceschetti, whose left eye was still purpled from a Sunday incident in Buffalo. Williams grabbed Kastelic around the neck from behind and everyone on the ice became involved.

At one point, Kastelic was sitting atop Williams throwing punches and Ferraro felt compelled to wrestle free and assist his teammate of one day.

The NHL is on record as committed to ending these multiplayer brawls, but the end result of this fracas does not figure to deter anyone. As usual, the penalties were even, except that Kastelic, the third man in the altercation, received two game-misconduct penalties to one for Williams. Ferraro and Pivonka were the only players not penalized.

In the second period, Churla attacked Franceschetti after a whistle and pounded that left eye some more. Churla received an extra minor as the instigator, Ulf Samuelsson was chased a few seconds later for slashing and Washington used the two-man advantage to grab a 4-0 lead when Christian converted a cross-crease pass from Gustafsson.

For the night, Washington made good on three of nine power plays, Hartford one of eight.

"It's a must to take advantage of power plays," Murray said. "There are not many teams in this division that don't have a good one. When people see the number of goals being scored and the number of chances set up on the power play, it will change some things.

"As a coach, you have to discipline your players to hold back. If you take a penalty, it has to be a good one. It should clean the game up and speed it up if the power-play goals continue like this."

Despite the mess that passed for his face, Franceschetti was happy, saying, "We can throw out four pretty good lines and we can play better hockey than their fourth line can. Churla's out there to take somebody off with him. We're out there to cause havoc, create opportunities and open space for our more skilled players. The best thing we can do is keep Churla and Tiger {Williams} on the ice. But you do have to keep your head up at all times."

Besides fists, a lot of sticks were flying. Washington's Rod Langway suffered a four-stitch cut under the left eye when he was whacked by Paul MacDermid in the third period. Gustafsson, who scored shorthanded in the first period, added a power-play goal during MacDermid's major.

Hartford's Ron Francis took Hunter's stick in the face late in the second period, but referee Ron Hoggarth missed that one. It was the kind of night where one referee just wasn't enough to follow the fouls.

Oilers 5, Flames 2:

In Calgary, Glenn Anderson got a hat trick, including two goals 71 seconds apart, to highlight a four-goal second period, and added an assist to lead Edmonton.

The Oilers made up for a loss in Edmonton Wednesday, handing Calgary its second loss in three home games this season.

The Oilers were outshot, 13-5, in the opening period, but Edmonton goalie Grant Fuhr made some spectacular saves to hold a scoreless tie. The Oilers outscored the Flames, 4-1, in the middle period despite being outshot, 12-8.

Rookie defenseman John Miner opened the scoring when his slap shot hit Calgary defenseman Gary Suter's leg and rebounded past goalie Mike Vernon 13 seconds into the period. The goal was Miner's first in the NHL.

Steve Smith gave the Oilers a 2-0 lead at 3:34 of the period with a power-play goal.

Defenseman Al MacInnis fired Hakan Loob's rebound past Fuhr at 9:30 to cut the lead to 2-1 with the Flames a man short.

Anderson sent a shot through Vernon's legs 38 seconds later at 10:08 to restore the Oilers' two-goal lead. Anderson scored his fifth goal of the season at 11:19 when he grabbed a loose puck behind the Calgary net and flipped a backhand past Vernon at the edge of the crease.

Joey Mullen intercepted Jari Kurri's pass deep in the Oilers' zone and sent a 20-foot shot past Fuhr's stick side at 7:50 to cut the lead to 4-2.