There was no new deal, or at least nothing firm, but Kevin Hatcher stayed and played with the Washington Capitals last night in their season-opener against Pittsburgh.

"I'm happy," Hatcher said before the game. "They showed good faith and so did we. I'm happy with the way things stand right now."

Hatcher has three years remaining on his contract, but he stayed out of training camp until Tuesday in an effort to persuade the Capitals to pay him more -- much more -- than the $200,000 he was scheduled to make this season.

Negotiations had stalled until Tuesday, when Hatcher reported and his agent, Ron Salcer, arrived from Los Angeles and began talking with owner Abe Pollin, President Dick Patrick and General Manager David Poile.

"We've had on-going negotiations for the last three days and the way we left it today was that negotiations had proceeded sufficiently that Kevin will play tonight and we will keep talking," Poile said before the game. "We'll take a few days off and we'll talk again with Ron Salcer next week in hopes of moving closer to a solution."

Indications were that Salcer was seeking a deal that would pay Hatcher in the range of $600,000 to $650,000 per year for four years. The Capitals' best offer prior to this week's negotiations was about $400,000 a year.

Hatcher said the two sides had "pretty well" agreed on a new salary for this season. He said there were no figures decided on for the remaining three years of the deal.

"We will negotiate over the month of October," said Hatcher, who will play in the meantime.

Poile didn't dispute Hatcher's interpretation of the current status of the negotiations, but did say, "When you don't have a deal finalized, anything can change."

Meanwhile, the Capitals announced that center Mike Ridley, left wing Michal Pivonka and right wing Steve Leach had agreed to new contracts. Last night the team sent defensemen Chris Felix and Bob Babcock and goalie Jim Hrivnak to Baltimore.