ORLANDO, FLA., SEPT. 20 -- The Washington Capitals lost an exhibition game to the Buffalo Sabres, 6-4, tonight, but what hurt considerably worse than the defeat was a fractured ankle suffered by defenseman Neil Sheehy.

Sheehy had to be carried off the ice in the second period following a fight with Buffalo left wing Mike Hartman. The players' skates tangled during the melee and Sheehy ended up in Orlando Regional Medical Center.

In the loss before 5,890 at the Orlando Arena, Washington proved (1) it needs to sign its holdouts, and (2) its defense is in tatters. Its exhibition record is now 0-3-2.

The key to the game was a 46-second span of the first period when Alexander Mogilny scored a goal and had an assist to spark a three-goal rally. Mogilny, a member of the Soviet Union's gold medal team of 1988, drew praise from his coach.

"Tonight was how I thought he could play," Sabres Coach Rick Dudley said. "He skated well and controlled the puck on the offensive end."

With such veterans as the Capitals' Rod Langway and the Sabres' Dale Hawerchuck, Dave Andreychuck and Pierre Turgeon sitting out the game, the emphasis was placed on the younger players, especially Washington's defensemen and goaltenders.

The Capitals defenders buckled down after surrendering the three goals in the first period.

"We scored an early goal {20 seconds into the first period} and tried to do too much," Capitals Coach Terry Murray said. "We have to realize that we have to play responsibly at both ends of the ice. We can't have defensemen rushing to the offensive end, out of position."

Sheehy's injury magnified the need to sign holdout defenseman Kevin Hatcher. "It doesn't matter who gets injured," Murray said. "We have to get Hatcher signed and get him in the lineup as soon as possible."

The other holdout, backup goaltender Don Beaupre, was needed tonight too. Jim Hrivnak and Byron DaFoe were in the Washington net, and their inexperience showed.

With a thin defense, Hrivnak, who played the first two periods, repeatedly faced three-on-two and two-on-one breaks. He allowed five goals. DaFoe, Washington's second-round draft pick in 1989, surrendered the last goal under less pressure.

The collapse of the defense tainted the first solid offensive night of the preseason for the Capitals. Washington had scored just eight goals in their previous four games.

"Aside from the one lapse, we played a pretty good game," Murray said. "We fought hard with a lot of young guys and I thought we could pull even at 5 and pull our goalie. Unfortunately, they scored that late goal {17:37 of the third period} to put the game out of reach."

One of the bright spots for Washington was the play of Nick Kypreos, who scored a goal and an assist in limited playing time. Forward John Druce got his first goal of the preseason.

Bruins 5, Nordiques 4: Randy Burridge's second goal of the game at 1:11 of overtime gave Boston the exhibition win in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Burridge deflected Jim Wiemer's slap shot from the right point past Ron Tugnutt for the game-winner, Boston's third power-play goal of the game. The Bruins got the power play when Quebec defenseman Craig Wolanin was assessed a major penalty for high-sticking with 46 seconds remaining in regulation.

Penguins 5, Red Wings 1: Randy Gilhen scored two third-period goals and Alain Lemieux scored his fourth goal in two games as Pittsburgh beat visiting Detroit.