CHICAGO, JAN. 17 -- A sensational goal by Denis Savard with 2:15 remaining completed his 10th career hat trick and lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-4 victory over the Washington Capitals tonight.
Savard eluded three defenders as he skated behind the Washington net, then moved out front and whipped a backhander between the legs of goalie Clint Malarchuk.
Seven goals were scored in less than 11 minutes of a wild third period, with Washington's Garry Galley and Dale Hunter connecting 31 seconds apart to erase a 4-2 Chicago advantage.
"Washington is a hard-working team and they never quit on you," Savard said. "They're always going to come back and you have to work as hard as they do and play smart hockey, too. It should have been a 4-2 hockey game, but we thought we had it won and we let down a bit."
Mike Gartner scored the Capitals' other goals, for a career total of 351. He had entered the game, his 669th in the NHL, with a remarkable figure of 349 goals, 349 assists.
The defeat wound up a disappointing five-game road trip in which Washington won only one while losing four.
"We played three pretty good hockey games that we lost," said Washington Coach Bryan Murray. "But the bottom line is you don't win. It was disappointing tonight, to be in a tie game going into the third period and turn the puck over, make some sloppy plays.
"But give Denis Savard credit. He played a great, great hockey game. I don't know whether anybody knocks him down or puts a stick on him, but we certainly don't."
Washington's Malarchuk stopped 17 shots over the first two periods and Chicago's Darren Pang turned back 25, as goals by Gartner and Savard created a 1-1 standoff. Suddenly, with less than 13 minutes remaining in regulation time, the goals started pouring in.
Steve Thomas gave the Blackhawks their first lead with a goal-mouth conversion of Brian Noonan's pass out of the right corner.
Gartner matched that on a deflection of a Kevin Hatcher drive for his 28th goal of the season.
With 9:09 left, referee Dave Newell whistled Chicago's Dave Manson for holding, a surprising call considering how many restraining fouls and held sticks Newell had overlooked earlier.
It backfired on the Capitals when Scott Stevens, pressured as he tried to bring the puck out of his end, sent a pass behind the net, toward Larry Murphy on the other side. The puck caught in the net and Savard quickly grabbed it and flipped out a centering pass.
Steve Larmer's shot was blocked by the defense and Malarchuk foiled Bob Murray's drive, but Savard's rebound struck the stick of Washington's Bengt Gustafsson and skipped off Malarchuk's right pad into the net. It was Savard's sixth shorthanded goal, one more than the entire Chicago team managed last year. The Blackhawks currently have 13.
When Dirk Graham whipped the puck between Malarchuk's legs from the right-wing circle with 5:54 on the clock, it appeared the Capitals were dead.
"We definitely got excited when Dirk scored and maybe we learned a lesson, not to get too excited," Pang said. "When a team like Washington concentrates on offense, it can do a lot of gunslinging."
Pang made a big stop on Kelly Miller with 2:45 left before Savard pulled out the victory.
Savard, who now has 28 goals and 84 points to rank third behind Mario Lemieux (95) and Wayne Gretzky (86), had a 16-game scoring streak end Saturday in Quebec.
One Blackhawk not celebrating the victory was left wing Everett Sanipass. He collided with teammate Troy Murray in the second period and was removed from the ice on a stretcher. Sanipass was taken to Illinois Masonic Hospital with a concussion and broken nose.
The Capitals begin a five-game homestand Tuesday night against New Jersey . . . They will practice Monday at 1:30 p.m. at the Bowie Ice Rink . . . General Manager David Poile missed tonight's game when his flight was canceled because of snow here . . . Washington's scratches were defenseman Greg Smith and right wing Craig Laughlin. Washington 1 0 3 4 Chicago 0 1 4 5
FIRST PERIOD SCORING -- 1, Washington, Gartner 27 (Murphy, Malarchuk), 11:29. PENALTIES -- Hunter, Was (holding), 12:14; Manson, Chi (roughing), 13:50.
SECOND PERIOD SCORING -- 2, Chicago, Savard 26 (Vincelette, Vaive), 7:14. PENALTIES -- Franceschetti, Was (roughing), :16; Manson, Chi (high-sticking), :16; Langway, Was (holding), 3:00; Gartner, Was, double minor (high-sticking, roughing), 11:20; Corriveau, Was (roughing), 11:20; Stapleton, Chi, double minor (high-sticking, roughing), 11:20.
THIRD PERIOD SCORING -- 3, Chicago, Thomas 6 (Noonan, Manson), 7:13. 4, Washington, Gartner 28 (Hatcher, Sundstrom), 8:53. 5, Chicago, Savard 27 (B.Murray, Larmer), 11:48 (sh). 6, Chicago, Graham 12 (Larmer), 14:06. 7, Washington, Galley 3, 14:48. 8, Washington, Hunter 15 (Christian, Galley), 15:19. 9, Chicago, Savard 28 (Vaive, Thomas), 17:45. PENALTIES -- Hunter, Was (roughing), 9:49; Nylund, Chi (roughing), 9:49; Manson, Chi (holding), 10:41.
Shots on goal: Washington 15 11 12 38 Chicago 10 8 7 25
Power-play Opportunities -- Washington 0 of 2; Chicago 0 of 3.
Goalies -- Washington, Malarchuk (25 shots-20 saves). Chicago, Pang (38-34).
A -- 16,408.
Referee -- Dave Newell. Linesmen -- Jerry Pateman, Dan Schachte.