The Washington Capitals' depleted defense continued to hear bad news yesterday, as Pete Scamurra underwent surgery and Leif Svensson and Yvon Labre nursed injuries.

Dr. Pat Palumbo operated on Scamurra's left knee at Arlington Hospital, repairing a severely torn ligament. Scamurra was tripped late in a 4-1 victory at Detroit Jan. 6 and will not play again this season.

Surgery was chosen over the alternative, a cast, because of the limited time remaining in the season. As it turned out, because of the severity of the injury, a cast probably would have been ineffective, anyway.

Scamurra had surgery for calcium deposits in his leg in April, after 18 months of struggling to play despite nagging pain.He had played capably since earning a regular spot, recording three goals and four assists in 30 games.

Sevensson's leg twisted under him when he was checked Sunday and he has not been able to play since because of a badly sprained left ankle. He will not skate in this afternoon's practice and the earliest possible date for his return is Saturday night in Pittsburgh.

Labre suffered a bruised knee during Tuesday's 6-2 loss to the New York Islanders. He will not skate today, but it is hoped he will be available for Friday night's important home game against Detroit.

The Capitals, with 31 points and in fourth place in the Norris Division, currently are 13 points away from the last wild-card playoff berth, shared by Buffalo and Los Angeles.

Ryan Walter, the Capitals' No. 1 draft pick last June, continues his drive toward rookie-of-the-year honors. Walter scored a goal and assisted on the other against the Islanders. He has netted goals in four consecutive games, which ties a team record. Two of those games were two-goal efforts and he has 17 for the season, one behind team leader Bob Sirois.