Bob Gould scored two goals last night as the Washington Capitals received considerable offensive help from unexpected sources in beating the New York Rangers, 8-4.

A Capital Centre crowd of 16,918 saw the Capitals win their fifth in a row and extend their unbeaten streak to six while ending the Rangers' undefeated run at seven. Washington moved into a first-place Patrick Division tie with Philadelphia.

The Capitals connected on five of 15 shots over the last two periods, as New York's John Vanbiesbrouck received little defensive help.

"To get humiliated and totally blown out, that makes me mad," Vanbiesbrouck said. "We were beaten in every category. We had an awful game tonight. After our first goal, they really got a grip on us."

Gould had not recorded a point since the Capitals' 10-3 romp over Los Angeles Dec. 6. Last night he also set up Peter Sundstrom's first goal since Oct. 27 as the checking line proved very offensive to the Rangers.

"It was frustrating at the start and the whole first half of the season was a total waste on my part," Gould said. "It's nice to win games, but it's nice to contribute, too.

"The last few games our line {Gould, Sundstrom and Kelly Miller} has played well and we've done our job checking, but tonight we got a few chances and created some things offensively. We don't care who scores, but if we can score once in a while, we can help the team more."

Other Washington goals were produced by Larry Murphy, Greg Adams, Yvon Corriveau, Bengt Gustafsson and Craig Laughlin.

For Corriveau, it was his second NHL goal, the first since he scored against the Rangers on Oct. 13, 1986. Laughlin's goal was his second in two months. Murphy's was his second in one month.

The one goal that stood out above all the rest was produced by Adams late in the first period, expanding Washington's lead to 3-1.

Mike Gartner grabbed the puck behind the New York net and skated out, carrying it through the slot while Rangers half-heartedly challenged him with their sticks. Gartner went behind a second time and, with Vanbiesbrouck confused and out of position, Gartner once again moved around the post at the goalie's right and this time tried to stuff it. Instead, the puck slid across the crease to Adams for a tapin.

"I started circling the first time and there was nothing there," Gartner said. "I was waiting for something to open up. The second time I tried to stuff it and I was fortunate that Greg was there to knock it in."

"I told Garts if he went around one more time, I'd have fallen down from being dizzy watching him," Adams said.

Gustafsson's goal was an unassisted, effort that earned him a share of the league lead in shorthanded goals at five with Chicago's Denis Savard and Los Angeles' Bernie Nicholls.

As the Rangers' power play set up in the Washington zone, Tomas Sandstrom tried to pass back to James Patrick at the right point. The puck skipped past and Gustafsson got to it first. He crossed into the New York zone and, seeing Patrick angling toward him, suddenly pulled up and fired a wrist shot into the net.

The New York power play, which has clicked a league-high 68 times, actually was minus-one as a result, because the Capitals killed off all four shortages while converting two of three extra-man chances themselves.

New York scored first, as Walt Poddubny fired a rising 50-footer past Clint Malarchuk at 2:02. Before the first period ended, however, the Capitals had built a 3-1 lead.

Gould tied it with a chest-high deflection after Kevin Hatcher's rebound had popped into the air.

"I thought my stick might have been too high and it was pretty close," Gould said. "I saw him {referee Don Koharski} point to the goal and I knew it counted. It was just an example of how things have started to bounce our way for a change."

Murphy netted a 40-footer on a power play before Adams boosted the margin to 3-1. The Rangers never closed within one goal again.

Corriveau made it 4-1 on a second-period rebound of a shot by Dave Christian, prying the puck from under the skates of defenseman Michel Petit.

New York scored three more goals and each time it took the Capitals less than three minutes to get it back.

Sundstrom's third-period goal, following sharp passes by Miller and Gould, came 44 seconds after a score by Kelly Kisio. Gould's second goal followed by only 12 seconds the final Rangers score, by Ulf Dahlen.

"We just quit on the last two goals," said New York Coach Michel Bergeron. "We were not sharp in our own end. We need to forget this game. The Capitals are a good team, with four strong lines and four strong defensemen."

Red Wings 5, Kings 3:Shawn Burr and Steve Yzerman scored short-handed goals 36 seconds apart in the third period to lead Detroit, playing at home, over Los Angeles and extend its unbeaten string to five games.

After Brent Ashton's 12th goal tied the score 3-3 at 9:55 of the final period, Detroit rookie Kris King was penalized for charging. Burr broke in two-on-one with John Chabot and banged his own rebound past Kings goaltender Glenn Healy to give the Red Wings the lead.

With King still in the penalty box, Yzerman picked up a loose puck near center ice, skated in alone and capped the victory with his 32nd goal of the season. Yzerman, who drew an assist on Petr Klima's goal earlier in the third period, extended his point-scoring streak to 21 games, longest in the league this season.

Detroit improved its Norris Division-leading record to 19-16-5 and moved six points ahead of idle St. Louis. The Kings had their four-game unbeaten streak end and fell to 13-25-5, worst in the NHL.

Sabres 3, Whalers 1:In Buffalo, Mike Ramsey assisted on two third-period goals, including Ray Sheppard's game-winner, and Tom Barrasso stopped 29 shots to help the Sabres extend their winning streak to four games.

Sheppard, a rookie, snapped a 1-1 tie 25 seconds into the third period when Ramsey's shot from the blue line deflected off him and past Hartford goaltender Mike Liut. It was Sheppard's 16th goal of the season.

Christian Ruuttu gave the Sabres an insurance goal at 7:50.

The winning streak is the longest for the Sabres since they won five in a row last February. It was the first win for the Sabres in six games against the Whalers this season. Hartford won four of the first five meetings and tied the other.

Blackhawks 7, Maple Leafs 3:Steve Thomas had his first career hat trick to lead host Chicago over struggling Toronto.

Thomas, acquired in an offseason trade with Toronto, scored during Chicago's four-goal first period, then added two goals in the third period after the Maple Leafs had rallied to within 4-3.

The Blackhawks' victory snapped their four-game home losing streak and boosted Chicago into a third-place tie with Toronto in the Norris Division. The Maple Leafs are 0-4-3 in their last seven games.

Oilers 4, Jets 4:Dave Hannan scored at 16:51 of the second period to give Edmonton a 4-4 tie in Winnipeg.

The Oilers are 1-1-2 since losing NHL scoring leader Wayne Gretzky, who suffered a strained right knee last Thursday while the Jets are winless in their last five games.

Flames 7, Islanders 4:In Calgary, rookie Brett Hull scored two goals and added an assist to pace Calgary to its third straight victory and knock New York out of first place in the Patrick Division.