Looking down on the Washington Capitals' power play from the stands can sometimes be a traumatic experience, as evidenced by the tendency of Capital Centre fans to react with a boo or two.

Saturday night in Minnesota, though, the Capitals' extra-man specialists gave Coach Bryan Murray reason to smile as he concluded his three-game suspension, which he has spent in the upper reaches of the rink.

Mike Ridley, Scott Stevens and Dale Hunter produced all of Washington's goals on power plays in a 3-3 tie with the North Stars, ending the road trip and Terry Murray's tenure on the bench with a 1-1-1 record.

The three goals in five extra-man chances were in sharp contrast to the two-for-30 success rate the Capitals carried into the contest.

"If you've got a good power play, you can win in this league," Bryan Murray said. "If you don't, you're in for a tough game every night. They are calling so many penalties, it's a necessity.

"Last night we were shooting the puck for a change and it paid off. For a few games before that, we had been tentative, waiting too long or passing to a guy in a pack. Our philosophy is to create quick puck movement, get the puck to the open man and shoot it. If we continue to do that, we'll be all right."

Stevens' goal, which created a 2-2 tie in the third period, was a classic. Stevens carried the puck out of the Washington end, cut between two defenders after crossing the Minnesota blue line and fired an accurate shot past goaltender Don Beaupre.

"We moved the puck a little better on the power play and we were shooting the puck," Stevens said. "I think before we were handling it too much. On a good power play, you get a guy open at the point and he shoots it right away."

Larry Murphy got off a good shot from the point not long after Stevens' effort and Dale Hunter deflected it past Beaupre for a 3-2 Washington lead. That wasn't quite enough, as Minnesota's Neal Broten converted an extra-man situation with 3:48 left in regulation to complete the scoring.

Dave Christian, who plays the left side on the No. 1 power-play unit, said, "We were back to shooting the puck when the opportunity was there. At times you can try to do too much and maybe we were. Then it can get frustrating.

"But we also knew we could have a good power play. We knew what was there because of our success earlier in the year and we just had to get back to what we'd been doing. Basically, the last few games we just weren't getting the puck at the net when we had a good opportunity."

Of his suspension, Bryan Murray said, "It was different, sometimes interesting and sometimes frustrating. I picked up some individual things that should help.

"Terry certainly had an interesting time. He had a goaltender hurt {Pete Peeters in Vancouver}, Hunter ejected {in Vancouver}, {Peter} Sundstrom hurt {in Minnesota} and two overtime games. It was frustrating for me to have to sit and watch all of it."

Capitals Notes:

The Capitals entertain Vancouver Tuesday and Quebec Friday, then travel to New Jersey Saturday to face the Devils, who are 6-0 on home ice . . . Alan Eagleson, executive director of the NHL Players Association, will talk to the Capitals before today's practice at Mount Vernon . . . Defenseman Greg Smith's record of at least one plus in every game ended in Minnesota as did Hunter's dubious streak of at least one penalty in every game.