HARTFORD, Conn. -- Just when the Capitals finally figured Peter Sidorkiewicz out, the Hartford Whalers did them one better. They figured the Capitals out.
The Capitals held on for a 2-2 tie at the Hartford Civic Center last night, after controlling play for more than two periods.
But after Washington scored the tying and go-ahead goals on the power play against Hartford goalie Sidorkiewicz early in the third period, they caved in. Hartford tied it and outplayed Washington the rest of the game.
After a go-ahead goal by Dino Ciccarelli, Hartford outshot Washington, 13-7. The Capitals outshot Hartford, 33-26, and limited the Whalers to 13 shots in the first two periods.
In overtime, the Capitals needed four saves from Mike Liut to preserve the tie.
"We would have liked to get two points out of it," Capitals coach Terry Murray said. "When we were up after scoring two on the power play that quickly, that should have been a big shift in momentum. When you're up, 2-1, you should be able to shut that down."
The Capitals scored two goals in the first 1 minute, 41 seconds of the third period to take the lead. Washington began the period with a 4-minute man advantage, as Hartford's Bobby Holik was called for a roughing double-minor late in the second. Holik's stick caught Ciccarelli in the upper lip, causing a cut that needed four stitches.
With 43 seconds gone, the Capitals tied it when Dale Hunter scored on a shot from the slot. Less than a minute later, Ciccarelli scored his 22nd when took a cross-ice pass from Al Iafrate and beat Sidorkiewicz inside the left post.
Hartford tied it with 15:17 left as Murray Craven took a lead pass from Mark Hunter, switched to his backhand and put a shot on Liut. Liut made the initial save, but the puck trickled through his pads.
But Liut, the former Whaler, more than atoned in overtime. He made two saves on John Cullen -- on a slap shot off a two-on-one, and on a wrist shot when Cullen was cutting across the slot.
"Those are the kinds of stops where you say, 'Hey, I contributed here,' " Liut said. "I always like coming back here and playing well. There are only two or three guys left that I played with, so the novelty sort of wears off. But it's nice."
Hartford took a 1-0 lead with 3:41 left in the first period. Cullen directed a Pat Verbeek centering shot past Liut for his 12th goal.
Verbeek had taken a pass from Paul Cyr just over the blue, skated up the left side and passed it through the crease.
The Capitals' best chance in the first period came on a Michal Pivonka-to-Todd Krygier setup with 9:28 left. Pivonka broke up the right, then sent a pass across the middle. Krygier -- another former Whaler -- tipped it, but Sidorkiewicz made a sliding pad save.
Sidorkiewicz also stopped Kevin Hatcher on a slap shot from the point when Washington was on the power play early in the game. Just before Cullen's goal, Sidorkiewicz stopped Dino Ciccarelli off a pass from Dale Hunter.
The Whalers began the second period with a man advantage, as Iafrate was called for roughing with a minute left in the first. Liut made a brilliant save early, as Verbeek one-timed a Cullen pass to the far side.
"[Liut] is the reason we get the point here tonight," Murray said. "He played very well all night, but especially in overtime." The Capitals made a quick run at Sidorkiewicz later in the second. Hatcher carried the puck up the middle and slapped it on. The rebound was slammed in by Pivonka, but Sidorkiewicz made another save. Krygier was waiting for that rebound, but Sidorkiewicz was there.