The Washington Capitals will be without defenseman Rick Green tonight when they resume their playoff chase in a 7:30 Capital Centre contest with the Los Angeles Kings.

Green, who also sat out Sunday's 1-1 tie in Colorado, suffered a bruised left knee Saturday. The swelling is expected to subside in time for him to return to action Saturday in Montreal.

Washington's three-point weekend left the Capitals only four points away from the 16th and last qualifying berth for the Stanley Cup playoffs, currently shared by Edmonton and Quebec.

The Capitals stand 18-32-10 at thge three-quarters mark of the season. The resulting 46 points represents the club's best 60-game effort in its six-year history. Last year the Capitals had 45 at this stage and finished with a record 63.

The Capitals' rollercoaster play has alternately whetted playoff appetites and prompted heartburn in recent weeks. However, the remaining schedule offers much that is favorable to those dreaming of the first-year Stanley Cup game at Capital Centre.

Washington plays 13 of its last 20 games at home, where NHL teams traditionally pad their point totals and where the Capitals' recent record is 8-2-2, after a dismal beginning.

Not one of the 10 other teams contending for the last six of 16 playoff spots has more than 11 home games left. Detroit and Vancouver, two logical Washington targets, have only 10 each, Edmonton just eight.

Colorado, with only seven home games remaining, and Winnipeg with just 17 games overall, seem hopelessly out of contention at this stage, but it is a scramble among the rest.

The Capitals' remaining home schedule includes two games against both Colorado and St. Louis, with singles against Los Angeles, Hartford, the New York Islanders, Boston, Detroit, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Atlanta.

Out-of-town trips still to come feature Detroit, Montreal, Boston, St. Louis, Toronto, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

The first 5,000 fans tonight will receive copies of a charity record called "Please Forgive My Misconduct Last Night." It was cut by the Kings' Triple Crown line of Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor and Charles Simmer.

Taylor and Simmer have been troubled by injuries, a contributing factor to the Kings' current sub-.500 status, after an excellent start. They will be alongside Dionne tonight, however.

Dionne, with points in 12 straight games, leads the NHL with 115, nine more than Montreal's Guy Lafleur. Taylor ranks fifth with 81, Taylor sixth with 78.