Whether it be the first of the season, the 500th in franchise history or the first over a former boss, victory is always sweet.

For the Washington Capitals, last night's 6-4 triumph over the Detroit Red Wings in front of 15,836 at Capital Centre was all of those things.

Bryan Murray, let go as Capitals coach in January, returned as coach and general manager of the Red Wings. On the other bench was brother Terry, who succeeded him with the Capitals.

"I feel good about it," Terry Murray said, with a laugh. "I told Bryan before the game that I wanted the two points."

This was the first time brothers had coached against each other in the NHL since Feb. 15, 1977. On that night, Larry Wilson guided the Red Wings against the Colorado Rockies, coached by Johnny Wilson.

This was the 500th regular season victory for the Capitals. Bryan Murray was the coach for 343 of those wins; Terry Murray for just 19, but this last one put the Capitals in the win column for the first time this season.

The Red Wings, who tied New Jersey in their opener, got goals from Bob Wilkie, Johan Garpenlov and Jimmy Carson (two), but they trailed by 2-0 in the first period and never drew even.

The Capitals had plenty of offense from the forwards. Kelly Miller, Mike Ridley and Peter Zezel each scored goals -- as they all did Friday. Dino Ciccarelli got his first goal of the year, as did Michal Pivonka and Nick Kypreos.

As defensemen go, Bob Rouse has been best in his own end. The 20 points and 16 assists he had last season were his NHL career highs. Rouse already has four assists in two games. Though it isn't enough to make up for Scott Stevens's departure to St. Louis, it is a good start.

"We practice it every day -- take the puck off the boards and throw it at the net," Rouse said. "In the playoffs last year, we had success doing that."

Both Murrays prefered to focus on the game and not the sibling rivalry.

"Terry had good matchups with the last change," Bryan Murray said.

Indeed, Ridley's line, including Miller and Steve Leach, shutout Red Wings star Steve Yzerman.

"They didn't do anything special," Yzerman said. "They just worked hard."

The Capitals still gave up the puck a few too many times. It cost them in Friday night's 7-4 season-opening loss to Pittsburgh. Last night they did it less often and got away with it more. Mike Liut allowed one weak goal, but stopped two breakaways, one by Carson.

The Capitals also struck early against Red Wings goalie Tim Cheveldae.

Ciccarelli scored his first of the season off a feed from Zezel for a 1-0 lead with 13:48 left. Just 42 seconds later, Rouse threw one toward the net that hit Miller and deflected in for a 2-0 edge.

The Red Wings made good on a three-on-two break, with Wilkie scoring off Dave Barr's pass. But the Capitals pushed the margin back to two goals, when Zezel scored with 3:53 left. Cheveldae made the stop on Rouse's slap shot, but Zezel put in the rebound before the goalie could cover.

Garpenlov caught Liut off stride and put a shot past him to cut the deficit to 3-2 with 3:10 gone in the second period, but again the Capitals did not let the Red Wings tie the game.

Ridley re-routed Leach's pass from the wing and the Red Wings were down, 4-2.

The Capitals' power play is four for 11 in two games, a solid improvement so far. But that group gave up a shorthanded goal with 11:41 left. Shawn Burr intercepted Calle Johansson's pass and fed Carson, who had room to blast a shot by Liut.

No problem. Rouse went at it again, throwing the puck at the net; it went in off Kypreos's leg.

"I'll take 20 of those," Kypreos said.

Pivonka split two defenders to score for a 6-3 lead with just 59 seconds to go in the third period. Carson scored with 2:51 left, but it was far too little.

As Liut said, "You've got to win when you score six goals."