NORFOLK, SEPT. 16 -- Rob Murray's game usually is played in a crouch -- lining up for a faceoff, digging in the corner, fending off an opponents' power play.

So when he was seen racing ahead of the pack tonight to score, it was a rare sight. But then Murray also is seeing the game differently.

"I don't get too many chances, so when I get them I want to make them count," Murray said of his goal that gave the Washington Capitals an early lead in their exhibition game tonight with Hartford. The Whalers fought back to earn a 4-4 tie in front of 5,441 at The Scope.

Michal Pivonka scored twice for the Capitals, who also got a goal from Calle Johansson. Hartford got goals from Ray Ferraro, Paul Cyr, Jergus Baca and James Black.

Murray played 41 games last season. He had just two goals and seven assists in that time, but no one expected him to score much.

His role was to center the fourth line, win his share of faceoffs and help kill penalties. With Dale Hunter, Mike Ridley and Peter Zezel taking the top three center spots, Murray will have to do the same sort of chores in order to play this season.

He played tonight with a visor attached to his helmet. In Friday night's game against the New York Rangers, David Shaw cross-checked Murray in the face. Murray required six stictches in his nose and eight more above his left eye.

"It's not bad," Murray said of the visor. "The fog's not bad. But any time you tilt your head, the sweat drops on to the visor."

The Capitals are 0-1-2 in the exhibition season.

Short a man, goalie Mike Liut -- who was playing against his former team for the first time -- kicked out a shot by Baca, the Whalers' Czechoslovakian defenseman. John Druce pushed it ahead to Murray, who went in alone on Kay Whitmore and flipped it in the net for a 1-0 lead with 13:30 left in the first period.

"I played three years of junior with Kay Whitmore and three years against him in the minors," Murray said. "But I didn't know what I was going to do. I was thinking too much."

The Whalers, still on the power play, tied the score on Ferraro's goal with 12:40 left.

With 12:15 left in the second period, Johansson was credited with a goal that might have been deflected in front. Midway through the period, Jim Hrivnak replaced Liut for the Capitals and Daryl Reaugh took over for Whitmore.

The Capitals pushed the lead to 3-1 when Pivonka scored with 3:53 gone in the third period, Johansson and Dino Ciccarelli assisting. Cyr cut the Hartford deficit to 3-2 with a goal with 14:16 left, but Pivonka responded with his second goal. However, the Capitals' 4-2 lead was soon cut to 4-3 after Black scored with 8:39 left. The pace didn't let up and neither did the Whalers. Baca scored his first North American goal for a 4-4 tie with 7:10 left.

Capitals Notes: The Capitals, who were to return to Lake Placid, N.Y., tonight after the game, will play three more exhibitions this week. They will play the Whalers Wednesday night in Hartford, the Buffalo Sabres Thursday night in Orlando, Fla., and then the Boston Bruins Saturday night at Capital Centre.