Kelly Miller finally reaped some rewards from his season-long effort yesterday, scoring the overtime goal that carried the Washington Capitals to a bitterly fought 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Goaltender Pete Peeters blocked 28 Philadelphia shots to record his first shutout in 89 games and lift the Capitals into second place in the Patrick Division, four points behind the Flyers.

Ron Hextall made 35 saves in the Philadelphia net, but he had no chance when Miller swept out from behind him and banked a backhander off the skate of defenseman Kjell Samuelsson with only 93 seconds left in the five-minute extra period.

"I feel great," Miller said. "I've been a little frustrated and I'd like to get more goals. But the main thing is winning."

His sixth goal of the season came on Washington's fifth overtime shot, with a Capital Centre sellout crowd of 18,130 creating bedlam. The Flyers, knocked back on their heels after star defender Mark Howe was ejected with 8:25 remaining in regulation, did not test Peeters in the extra period.

"There was a lot of work at the end to keep the pressure on, particularly on their defense," said Washington Coach Bryan Murray.

Murray took his timeout 66 seconds before Miller scored and reminded his players of where to dump the puck so that Hextall would not clear it right back out.

A good dump by Rod Langway started the winning play, but Miller maintained possession behind the Flyers' goal line for a long stretch before executing the decisive move.

"There was a nice dump by Rod into the corner and I beat the defenseman {Doug Crossman}," Miller said. "I was heading behind the net and I almost ran into Bobby Gould. Both defensemen went with him and left me alone.

"I started to come out one way {at Hextall's left}, but I thought the defenseman might cut me off. So I came out the other way {at Hextall's right} and I'm not sure how the puck got in, but it was a break I'm happy to get."

Hextall recalled it much more clearly: "I saw him coming and I played it, but it hit Sammy's skate and went in the net. It's tough to put in a good effort like that and lose on a bad break."

Peeters said: "Most of the season, we've been saying, 'Great game, Kelly,' but he was never getting any rewards. Tonight it was like he won the lottery."

Peeters' previous shutout came against Quebec on Nov. 23, 1985, nine days after the Capitals acquired him from Boston. He had come close many times since, often giving up a late goal.

"It's been a while since I had a shutout, but we've been playing hard and playing well and it's nice to get one like this, in a game we had to win," he said. "We might not show up all the time, but we showed up tonight."

Despite the frequent use of "tonight" by the players, this one started five minutes past noon, the earliest game in the Capitals' 14-year history. It also was the team's first regulation scoreless tie and it was Washington's second 1-0 victory, the other coming at Pittsburgh on Oct. 25, 1983.

Day or night, these teams go after each other physically and this game was no exception. Philadelphia was assessed 20 penalties for 65 minutes, Washington 19 for 60.

"The penalty calls slowed the game down and took away from the hockey game," said Hextall, who received three minors for excessive stick swinging, including a second-period incident in which he whacked his blade on Greg Adams' head.

Hextall also was involved in the principal confrontation of the game, the one that forced Howe and Washington's Scott Stevens to depart for the afternoon.

Adams, who later said, "I've got so many marks today, I don't know where they're from," tried to follow a shot after Hextall had covered the puck. Flyer Greg Smyth knocked Adams against the post, then Howe hit Adams with his stick.

Stevens, who had been waiting with partner Larry Murphy at the points so as not to affect the ensuing faceoff, charged into Howe, and all the players on the ice except Peeters became involved.

Howe was given a major penalty for spearing and a mandatory game misconduct, Stevens a minor for roughing and a game misconduct as the "third man" in an altercation already involving three players. Smyth and Adams were given double minors and 10-minute misconducts, effectively removing them from the contest as well.

"I went after Howe and I only went in because of what Howe was doing," Stevens said. "That was dangerous. I didn't deserve a third man. Howe was the third man."

The last time the Flyers came here, Hextall's stickhandling was a major factor in their 3-2 victory.

"We played much better against his style today," Adams said.

Murray said: "Last year the comments were that we couldn't beat the Flyers because we weren't tough enough. Well, we've showed up this year and we've proved we can play very well against them."

Sabres 4, Jets 4:

Veteran Adam Creighton's two goals kept the Sabres from losing in Buffalo.

His second goal tied the game late in the third period.