PHILADELPHIA, OCT. 23 -- Mikhail Tatarinov's NHL and Washington Capitals debut was not in the friendliest of confines. Many opponents have left the building at the corner of Broad and Pattison bruised and beaten. But Tatarinov and teammates tonight left The Spectrum beaming and buoyant.

The team won, 6-2, and the opening night reviews of the Capitals' recent Soviet import were quite positive. Tatarinov did not score, but he moved the puck well, didn't get caught out of position that much and was even in the plus-minus category. More important, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound defenseman showed no hesitation, much less fear, taking and dishing out checks. He was controlled but undaunted.

"The early reports look good, but we've got to play a game," Capitals defenseman Bob Rouse had said this morning of Tatarinov.

"He passed his first test with flying colors," Rouse said after the game. "He played very well defensively and he showed a lot of composure when they started to mix it up."

Before signing with the Capitals this month, the 24-year-old Tatarinov had been to North America some 20 times and played against NHL teams on most of those trips. So this event was not completely new territory, but he knew the attention was on him.

"I could feel the kind of big responsibility it is," Tatarinov said through interpreter John Chapin.

There will not be such focus every night, but the adjustments to the North American style of play will take time. There is a language barrier.

"There were a few miscues {in communication} but you have those with anybody," goalie Mike Liut said.

Coach Terry Murray reported no communications problems. "I just said, 'Tatarinov, go,' " Murray said. "I thought he played very well."

Tatarinov played 11 games this season with his Soviet team, Moscow Dynamo, but hadn't played in about 10 days and was bothered by what he thought was a warm arena.

"When I'm in top physical condition, I'm going to be a lot better," he said.

In the third period, Tatarinov stepped up to check Derek Smith and a moment later checked Keith Acton into the boards. They pushed a bit and Acton yelled something that Tatarinov probably understood without knowing the exact meaning of the words. Both got roughing penalties. Then with 2:55 left, Tatarinov hit Ron Sutter and was called for interference.

"I didn't do that intentionally," he said. "It just worked out that way."

It worked out fine.