If they have demonstrated nothing else, the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals have shown they are evenly matched teams.
The last time they met, in the playoffs last spring, they went four overtimes before Pat LaFontaine gave the Islanders the victory in the decisive seventh game.
In their first meeting this season, Tuesday night at Uniondale, N.Y., LaFontaine scored three goals in the first 23 minutes.
It wasn't enough, however. The Capitals fought back to tie in the third period, only to lose in overtime, 4-3, when right wing Brad Lauer scored with 35 seconds remaining.
Although he didn't score the winner, LaFontaine had a hand in it. He skated in on goaltender Clint Malarchuk as part of a three-on-two break. LaFontaine missed the net, but the puck caromed off the boards to Lauer, who shot at an open net.
For the third consecutive game, the Islanders, leading the Patrick Division, blew a two-goal or bigger lead in the third period. The Islanders came back to win two of the three in overtime, but Pittsburgh beat them in the other game, 4-2.
In this one, defenseman Larry Murphy led the Capital rally. His second goal tied the score with nine minutes left in regulation. Only brilliant goaltending by Kelly Hrudey kept the Capitals from winning.
Malarchuk said he never saw the shot by Lauer.
"They tell me it went under the crossbar," Malarchuk said. "I wasn't even sure who got the rebound on the play."
The Islanders have been outscored, 9-1, in the third period of their last three games.
St. Louis 5, Philadelphia 2--The Flyers' woes continue.
Tony McKegney scored twice and assisted on another at St. Louis as the Blues beat the Flyers for only the second time in their last nine meetings.
The Flyers, who have won only once in 11 games, are tied with the Rangers for last place in the Patrick Division with a 4-10-3 record. They are already 10 points behind the New Jersey Devils and the Islanders, who share the top spot.
All-Star goaltender Ron Hextall, who said he has to play better if the Flyers are going to shake their slump, gave up 5 goals on 28 shots and his record fell to 1-6-2.
He even gave up a short-handed goal to Brian Sutter in the third period that cut short a Philadelphia rally.
New Jersey 3, New York Rangers 2--The Devils, the only team that has won every home game, also proved they could win on the road.
John MacLean scored at 4:22 of the third period at New York to snap a 1-1 tie, and rookie Brendan Shanahan scored his first NHL goal to give the Devils a commanding 3-1 lead. They held on for their second road win to remain in a tie for first place with the Islanders.
The Rangers have lost seven in a row.
Winnipeg 4, Calgary 3--The Jets spotted the Flames a three-goal lead at Winnipeg, then came back to win in overtime.
Andrew McBain, who scored the Jets' first goal with just 76 seconds left in the second period, scored a fluke goal at 3:48 of overtime to win it.
McBain, trying to pass the puck to Ray Neufield in front of the net, missed his target. The puck hit goaltender Doug Dadswell's pad and caromed into the net.