HARTFORD, DEC. 9 -- Kevin Dineen drove the Washington Capitals to distraction tonight. Then, for a finishing touch, he scored a sensational third-period goal that lifted the Hartford Whalers to a 5-4 victory.

Dineen skated through most of the Washington team to deposit the game winner in the net at 9:07 of the third period. His second goal of the night spoiled Washington comebacks that had wiped out 3-1 and 4-3 deficits.

Sylvain Turgeon also scored twice for the Whalers, while Kevin Hatcher got two for the Capitals.

Alain Raymond made his NHL debut in the Washington net after Clint Malarchuk yielded three goals in the first period. Raymond, who will return to Fort Wayne Thursday, was beaten twice in 20 shots and made some superb saves.

The last two periods were marred by numerous cheap-shot incidents and Dineen was involved in four scrapes that saw him take a different Capital off on a coincidental minor each time. For a not-so-grand finale, the teams became involved in an all-hands brawl at the buzzer, ignited by Washington's Dale Hunter and Hartford's Brent Peterson.

At one point, Washington had four defensemen in the penalty box. The Capitals already were playing without defenders Rod Langway, who was released from the hospital today, and Greg Smith.

Dineen got the Whalers and the crowd of 13,538 off to a satisfying start when he blasted Hunter, the man Hartford loves to hate, into the boards on the first shift. Hunter bruised his left hip and saw limited action thereafter.

"You want to get a good, solid hit when you can, especially at the start of the game," Dineen said. "He went in the corner, I had a chance to lay him out and I did. I think it got our team going."

The Whalers dominated the first period, Turgeon scoring twice as they built a 3-1 lead against the struggling Malarchuk. Although Raymond was due to head back to the minors Thursday without having played a game, Coach Bryan Murray sent him out to try to turn things around.

"We played an awful first period and I felt this was a night where the change would do Clint good and the players good," Murray said.

The move paid off, as the Capitals took control. There was a minor drawback at first, because Washington was forechecking so well that Raymond did not face a shot for more than five minutes.

"I was a bit nervous and it's always better when you get in there, to get a few shots," Raymond said. "I was anxious to get the first one and get going. I wanted to do well. I was happy to get a chance, to get the experience."

Greg Adams rebounded a Mike Gartner shot for his first goal in 14 games against the Whalers, the team that dealt him to Washington. It was the Capitals' second power-play goal in two attempts and they would receive no more.

Then Hatcher, after goalie Mike Liut blocked his intial shot, retrieved the puck behind the net and stepped around the post to tie the score at 3-3.

It was at this point that the Capitals found themselves with only Hatcher and Larry Murphy left on the ice among the entire defensive corps. They killed off a penalty, the others gradually returned and things looked bright for Washington.

That was when Dineen took command. Peterson dumped the puck and Dineen beat two Capitals, Paul Cavallini and Bengt Gustafsson, to it near the right post. Raymond moved out, but Dineen whacked it between the goalie and the post for a 4-3 lead.

"I was caught in the middle, the only place you don't want to be," Raymond said. "I should have been in the net or come all the way out."

Dineen said, "I was going down the wing and the goalie came out at kind of a funny angle. He gave me a lot of net and I chipped at it. I was fortunate that it went in."

After Gartner rapped a shot off the crossbar, Hatcher picked off a clearing pass by Turgeon and fired a long shot that caromed off both Turgeon and another Whaler, Sylvain Cote, before winding up in the net 88 seconds before the intermission.

Raymond made some excellent stops in the third period, as Hartford outshot Washington, 11-6. But he had no more answers to Dineen's brilliant play than his teammates did.

On the winning goal, Dineen crossed the Capitals' blue line and dragged the puck between Cavallini's legs before skating past the rookie defenseman. When Murphy rushed across to cut him off, Dineen held the puck briefly until Murphy went past. Then he broke for the net and flipped the puck between Raymond's legs as he was hauled down by Gustafsson.

"I pulled it through the first guy and when the second guy came for me, I tried the same thing," Dineen said. "He got a piece of me and I shot it as I fell."

"It was a great goal," said Hartford Coach Jack Evans. "It really lifted the team. It's what you call a game breaker."

Murray said, "He {Dineen} scores two big goals, runs Hunter, stirs the whole pot. That was a heck of a goal at the end. It shouldn't happen, beating a defenseman so cleanly, but it's a young defenseman and he took advantage of it."

The Capitals had several chances to tie it down the stretch. Dave Christian lined a shot off Liut's mask. The luckless Gartner rattled a post with Liut beaten. Then with 30 seconds left, Liut stopped a shot by Murphy and the rebound rolled off Gustafsson's stick.

Referee Terry Gregson called 28 penalties, but nothing at the finish, when Hunter cross-checked Peterson, Peterson jumped on Hunter and both benches emptied. Presumably, the NHL will review the film and assess the usual fines.