LANDOVER, Md. -- Mike Gartner scored a hat trick -- including a controversial second goal -- and defenseman Larry Murphy assisted three times Tuesday night to lead the Washington Capitals to a 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
Gartner completed his hat trick to bring his season goal total to nine at 17:47 of the final period after scoring twice in the middle period.
The sharpshooting right winger's second goal gave Washington a 5-1 lead at 7:01 of the second period and was hotly contested. Gartner had intercepted a pass near the blueline but lost the puck enroute to the net.
Larry Murphy stole it back and set up Gartner in the slot. The shot hit the crossbar, and play continued until referee Dan Marouelli stopped action and awarded the goal.
With a 2-1 first-period lead, the Capitals took over in the second period, scoring three times on eight shots against Darrell May, who was making his NHL debut. St. Louis outshot Washington 25-23, including 13-6 in the third period.
Gartner's first goal and one by Alan Haworth came 1:36 apart 3:33 into the second period to give the Capitals a 4-1 lead.
Joe Mullen's shot from the right faceoff circle at 4:39 of the third period drew St. Louis within 5-2.
Gartner restored Washington's three-goal lead at 17:47 before Blue Doug Gilmour ended the scoring with 27 seconds left in the game.
Greg Paslawski opened the scoring just eight seconds into the action, setting records for both clubs -- fastest goal at start of a game for the Blues and fastest goal by an opponent against the Capitals. Paslawski jammed in a rebound from the corner of the crease to beat Al Jensen.
The Capitals took advantage of a two-man advantage, created when May was called for slashing, to even the score at the 9:13 mark on a goal by Dave Christian.
Washington defenseman Peter Andersson scored his first goal of the season to break the tie at 12:36.