With Rod Langway ailing, Kelly Miller is wearing the captain's "C" on his jersey for the Washington Capitals. Yesterday it might as well have been Superman's "S."

Miller's second goal of the game, with 39 seconds left in the five-minute overtime period, lifted Washington to a 5-4, comeback victory over the New York Islanders at Capital Centre.

It was the second time Miller had produced an overtime goal on Super Bowl Sunday. He did it in 1988, beating the Philadelphia Flyers, 1-0.

The triumph, only the second in seven games for the struggling Capitals, moved them within one point of New Jersey in the fight for the final playoff berth in the Patrick Division. They also opened a nine-point gap over the last-place Islanders.

New York took a 4-2 lead into the third period, but Miller halved the deficit with a sensational score at 3:53. He made an outside move on defenseman Gary Nylund in the left wing circle, cut for the net and slipped a backhander between the pads of goalie Glenn Healy.

"I had a couple of good shots outside and nothing happened, so I wanted to get in closer," Miller said. "I faked the shot, got around {Nylund} and was able to get it between the goalie's legs."

Ken Sabourin's first goal as a Capital, in only his second game, pulled Washington even at 10:26. Healy was handcuffed by a Steve Leach shot and when the puck popped over his shoulder, Sabourin put in the rebound.

The Capitals got lucky after Dino Ciccarelli was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking Nylund with 4:28 left in regulation time. Islander Brent Sutter was chased for tripping Miller 23 seconds later, evening the sides for two minutes, and Washington was able to kill off the last 1:37 of Ciccarelli's sentence.

Sutter banged a shot off a post in the first minute of overtime, then the Capitals took over. Miller won it on Washington's fourth shot of the extra period, deflecting a drive by Calle Johansson.

The Swede unloaded from 45 feet while Miller battled defenseman Jeff Norton in the slot. The puck appeared to strike Norton's skate and then Miller's stick before popping over the right shoulder of Healy, who briefly argued that Miller had kicked the puck into the net.

"I went to the front of the net, just trying to screen the goalie, and the defenseman was with me," Miller said. "It deflected off us, but I really wasn't sure if it hit my stick or not. It was good to see the red light go on. We're struggling and a lot of guys are frustrated in terms of scoring, so I was glad to contribute."

As captain, Miller gave his teammates a talk after the second period.

"Basically, I kept telling everybody not to get frustrated," Miller said. "I thought everybody was working hard the whole game, skating hard and taking the body. We were getting good chances, just not putting them in, and I didn't want the guys to get frustrated and hang their heads."

The Capitals led for less than a minute. Kevin Hatcher put a 55-footer between Healy's pads nine seconds after the opening faceoff. Derek King, who had two goals, quickly pulled New York even at the 57-second mark on the third of a series of shots at goalie Don Beaupre.

"Scoring early is not good sometimes and it didn't help us today," said Capitals Coach Terry Murray. "There's a tendency to think it'll be easy and you back off a bit. They scored right away and it took us another 40 minutes to get back in it."

New York took advantage of a double-minor to Mike Ridley for high sticking to snap the tie, David Volek connecting during the first of Ridley's penalties at 11:58. Beaupre was sensational during Ridley's second minor, stopping two deflections.

The Islanders made it 3-1 early in the second period on a wraparound by Pat LaFontaine, his 26th goal of the campaign.

The Washington power play had fizzled 27 straight times before Ciccarelli connected at 8:30, with Brad Lauer off for interference.

King's second goal re-extended the margin to two with 1:26 left in the period. He was unchecked on the left wing when three Capitals pursued Sutter, who made a perfect rinkwide pass from the right circle. Beaupre got a piece of King's shot, but the puck trickled in.

"The guys worked hard the first two periods and then in the third we let them put pressure on us," King said. "They worked harder and we fumbled up. It could easily have gone the other way."