Irene Pollin, through the unlikely coincidence of two canceled flights, made her debut as good-luck charm for husband Abe's Washington Capitals tonight. She bombed.

"I'm goin to do better than Abe (the club was a winner in his first two road games)," she said bravely, before adding, "but let's not depend on luck. It's better to be good."

The Capitals were lucky enough tonight, two promising Chicago shots clanging against posts as Washington bult a 3-2 lead. They weren't good enough, however, and a modest three-game unbeaten streak and two-game winning storing extinguished by the Black Hawks, 5-3.

Robert Picard, the anchor of a depleted Washington defense, continued his individual heroics. He assisted on the first two Washington goals to tie Tommy Williams' 4-year-old culb record of scoring in nine consecutive games. Picard has amassed six goals, 11 assists over that stretch.

The Capitals, whose pregame outburst of shouting from the dressing room startled Pollin a floor above, were undismayed by their losing effort. They never stopped plugging, amd that is the matter of greatest import.

The enthusiasm is good and the guys want to play," said Guy Charron, the team captain who was playing his 200th straight game in a Washington uniform. "We've got something going and we know we can win. The important thing is not to lose two or three in a row, not to start a wheel of losing.

"We've lost a tough game on the road, now we've got to come home Tuesday and beat Philly. Then we'll know we'fe a playoff team."

After yielding a shorthanded goal to J. P. Bordeleau, who blocked a Charron shot and beat Bernie Wolfe with a breakaway blast from the right-wing circle, the Capitals bounced back in front.

Bill Riley deflected a Picard slap shot for his second goal of the season, then Ryan Walter converted a Picard pass into the slot for his 11th score.

Yvon Labre, returning to the Washington defense for the first time since he dislocated a shoulder Nov. 4, mishandled the puck to permit Ivan Boldirev to tie it up. But early in the second period Labre's perfect cross-ice pass set up Blair Stewart for a breakaway goal that lifted the Capitals into a 3-2 lead.

Two Chicago goals 67 seconds apart turned the game around, to the delinght of 8,427 fans who were the object of extra security guards, because of recent outbreaks of violene among spectators here.

Wolfe, making his first appearance in goal since Dec. 17, was off balance as he vainly tried to block Cliff Koroll's 50-foot shot. Then Stan Mikita defleced a Mike O'Connell slap shot past Wolfe for the game winner. It was the 1,439th NHL point for Miita but only the sixth for Chicago-born O'Connell, son of the standout Illinois and NEL quarterback of years gone by, Tommy O'Connell.

Gary Inness, slated for a night of rest because a Detroit shot slammed into both kness above his pads Saturday night, replaced Wolfe at the start of the third period. His presence seemed to give the Capitals a lift, but Chicago goalie Tony Esposito made a superb save on a close-in drive by Charron to maintain the lea. Then some ill-advised retaliation ended the Capitals' chances.

Chicago's Grant Mulvey aimed an elbow at Gary Rissling and it seemed momentarily that Washington would embark on a power play. However, Riley then cross-checked Mulvey to the ice and Rissling, exchanging fists with Darcy Rota, received an unsportsmanlike conduct minor in addition to a major for fighting -- coincidental with Rota -- and gross misconduct.

So, instead of man advantage the Capitals were a man short and the Hawks' John Marks converted a Mikita pass to wrap it up.

"When yor're a goal down timing is important, and those penalties came at the wrong time," said Washington Coach Danny Belisle. "You can't look at a lot of things like that, but basically we just didn't get the attack going. We didn't have the spark tonight.

"I put Gary in because I thought maybe it would give our guys a spark. There aren't many things you can do when you see you don't have that spark and this was one of them. It wasn't a matter of pointing a finger at Bernie."

The Capitals, after their initial burst at the start of the third period, wound up with only four shots over the 20-minute span.

"Chicago is a good defensive club," Charron said. "Once they get ahead, they pick up the man, come back and dump it in. I thought we had them, I thought we'd gotten the momentum on Blairs goal. But they got it back."

The Capitals played without defensemen Rick Green, nursing a bruised knee, and Pete Scamurra, who damaged a knee Saturday in Detroit.