BALTIMORE, SEPT. 14 -- Part of the training camp quandary for the Washington Capitals was what to do about left wing.

Kelly Miller is a sure bet and Michal Pivonka should occupy a spot, but with Geoff Courtnall gone, there were questions about others, notably Bob Joyce and Steve Maltais.

Maltais helped his cause tonight by scoring a third-period goal to lift the Capitals to a 2-2 tie with the New York Rangers in front of 3,354 at Baltimore Arena. This was the exhibition opener for both teams and they will meet again Saturday night in Albany, N.Y. Mike Ridley scored the other Capitals goal; Ray Sheppard and Lindy Ruff scored for New York.

Maltais had two excellent chances in in the first few minutes, but came up empty. "Up here you've got to bear down on your chances because you don't get that many, but luckily I got another chance," he said.

"It's been a roller coaster," Capitals Coach Terry Murray said this week of Maltais's first week of camp. "Sometimes he's been great and played real hard. But in the first scrimmage, he was always looking for something to happen, instead of being aggressive with the puck. That comes with being a young guy. He has a lot of tools -- size, strength and creative skills."

In the second period, Maltais had a chance to break up ice with the puck to create the sort of scoring chance Murray was speaking of, but he hesitated, waiting for help to catch up. But that should come.

"I'm sure he's feeling some pressure, knowing he has a real opportunity to make the club," said Murray, who doesn't want Maltais to think he will be benched simply for trying to make a play.

Maltais made a strong play in the third. Going to the net, he lifted a rebound of his own shot over John Vanbiesbrouck for the 2-2 tie with 9:41 left.

Maltis (6 feet 2, 210 pounds) is just 21, but last season had 66 points in 67 games with Baltimore. He played eight regular season games with the Capitals and then replaced Joyce in the lineup for Game 4 of the conference finals against Boston.

"Obviously, you're a lot looser in the American {Hockey} League," he said. "But no one wants to play there the rest of their lives, so you've got to adjust sooner or later."

Joyce, 24, is hoping this season will be like 1988-89, when he had 49 points. Last season, he had three points in 23 games for Boston before being traded to Washington. He was just starting to get in sync, with three goals in four games, when he messed up his knee Jan. 3 in New York.

"I'm still waiting for Bob Joyce to really do something out there," Murray said Thursday. "He's working hard, but I'm waiting for him to do something. He's playing on a line {tonight} that might give him an opportunity to do some of the things he's capable of doing, or things I hope he's capable of doing."

Joyce did not have as many opportunities as Maltais, but one he did get was grand. However, Richter thwarted Joyce's shot after a pass from Dale Hunter on a power play.

"I feel pretty good in camp skating," Joyce said. "I definitely have to score when I get the opportunities. But getting the chances are what is important. I've scored before and I think I can score again."

Up two men, the Rangers took a 1-0 lead with 46 seconds gone on a rebound goal by Sheppard. Ruff scored an odd goal for a 2-0 lead on goalie Mike Liut, who otherwise played well.

With 9:36 left, Jim Hrivnak replaced Liut and Vanbiesbrouck replaced Richter. Ridley scored a power-play goal for the Capitals with 27 seconds left in the second period. Assists went to Dino Ciccarelli and Alan May.