For the first time this season, the Washington Capitals reached into their farm system for help yesterday, summoning goaltender Alain Raymond and defenseman Bill Houlder from Fort Wayne of the International Hockey League.

Raymond will back up Clint Malarchuk while Pete Peeters spends a week to 10 days recovering from a strained ligament in his left knee.

Houlder will be available if Rod Langway's back continues to keep him out of action. Langway skated yesterday, but said his back was stiff. Reevaluations today and Tuesday will determine whether he can play against Edmonton Tuesday night.

There was good news on the suddenly busy injury front yesterday. Bengt Gustafsson skated at Mount Vernon and was cleared to play Tuesday.

He still was black and blue from Friday's encounter with the stick of Pittsburgh's Jim Johnson. However, the swelling around his right eye diminished considerably and there was no damage to the eye itself.

Raymond had a 2.86 goals-against average in his first eight games at Fort Wayne and was battling Darrell May of Peoria for the IHL lead. He and Houlder are considered the top prospects in the Capitals' farm system and were assigned to Fort Wayne to assure a lot of playing time.

They aren't likely to stay here, unless further injuries occur. General Manager David Poile prefers his young players playing elsewhere rather than sitting on the Washington bench.

Peeters was hurt in the first period Saturday at Pittsburgh. His legs became tangled as he tried to stack his pads to defense a shot off a pass across the front of the net. Until the injury, he had been sensational, stopping all 12 shots that came his way.

Malarchuk, given a 3-0 lead, was beaten on the first two shots he faced, five of the first 10. Then he hung tough and stopped the last 18, including an outstanding glove save of Mario Lemieux's deflected overtime shot.

"When you go in cold, it's tough to get a rhythm until you feel the puck a couple of times," Malarchuk said. "When the first two go in, confidence becomes a factor and you start to struggle with yourself.

"I could feel the goats' horns sprouting, but after the second period the guys were great. They patted me on the back, told me to forget it. I relaxed and told myself to put everything out of my mind. It was 5-5 at that point and I said to myself, 'Just look at it as a zero-zero game and go from there.

"{Coach} Bryan {Murray} gave us a talk and told us to go out and show some character. I think we all had to. We were a little bit short, missing Rod and Gus and then Scotty {Stevens, ejected for spearing Rob Brown in the first period}. Everybody had to bear down, and I think everybody really came through."

The principal defensive pairings of Greg Smith and Kevin Hatcher, Garry Galley and Larry Murphy held up very well in the absence of Langway and Stevens.

"The four of them got a lot of ice time and they played pretty solid," Murray said. "They got tired a bit killing penalties, but they did a good job under difficult circumstances. That was a tough spot for Clint to go in, then on the first shot the defense makes a mistake and it's in. But he was sensational at the end."

Of the 18 assists awarded to the two teams Saturday, Galley was the only player to get two. He had a terrible time against Boston Wednesday, but rebounded with two strong efforts against Pittsburgh.

Bob Gould doubled his goal total with a hustling score. When the puck came to rest on the back of the Pittsburgh net, he whacked it loose, then made a quick move to poke it into the net.

Lou Franceschetti doubled his assist total with another display of hustle. He dived to keep the puck in at the Pittsburgh blue line and fed it ahead to Mike Ridley, who relayed it to Dave Christian for a score.

"We have to have more people contributing and that game was a start," Murray said. "Actually, we've played very well the last four games. Sometimes we've worked too hard and not shown enough patience around the net. But with 47 shots Friday and 40 Saturday and getting the five goals, we seem to be going in the right direction.

"We're coming home for four games and if we have enough healthy bodies out there, we ought to be able to play at a high level."

Capitals Notes:

In the 5-5 tie, each team had 40 shots. Washington served 41 penalty minutes, Pittsburgh 40. Dale Hunter, with two goals, was the No. 1 star Saturday. Brother Dave of the Penguins, with a goal and an assist, was No. 2 . . . Goaltender Cleon Daskalakis was shipped from Binghamton to Fort Wayne to fill in for Raymond.