The game at Edmonton was influenced by three decisions from referee Ron Hoggarth. All the calls went against the Capitals, who had two goals disallowed on quick whistles.
The first came when Hoggarth thought Edmonton goaltender Grant Fuhr had control of the puck seconds before Bengt Gustafson stuffed it into the net early in the second period.
Another came in the third period when Hoggarth whistled a delayed penalty against Edmonton with Washington storming to the attack and the Oilers clearly unable to get possession of the puck.
But the call that hurt Washington the most was allowing Messier's power-play goal at 4:17 of the final period. The Capitals argued that Messier kicked the puck into the net, and television replays seemed to support their stand.
The Capitals, who had beaten Edmonton in their two previous meetings this season, made the finish interesting when Peter Sundstrom scored with 10 minutes left.
Chicago 2, New York 2--Rick Vaive and Troy Murray scored third-period goals less than two minutes apart to give the Blackhawks a tie at New York.
The Blackhawks got a great goaltending performance from Bob Mason, who made 46 saves as the Rangers outshot the Blackhawks, 48-19.
The one point moved the Rangers into a fifth-place tie in the Patrick Division with the idle Pittsburgh Penguins, marking the first time they have been out of the cellar since Nov. 29.
Hartford 4, Boston 3--Dave Tippett and John Anderson scored 26 seconds apart early in the third period to lift the Whalers over the Adams Division-leading Bruins.
The loss snapped the Bruins' six-game unbeaten streak, in which they were 4-0-2.
Hartford, which opened a five-game trip, earned only its third victory in its last 10 games.
The Bruins, who have a one-point lead over second-place Montreal in the Adams, open a home-and-home series against the Canadiens Wednesday at Montreal.