The Washington Capitals yesterday made a deal that required considerable explantion. They traded right wing Mark Lofthouse, the American Hockey League's leading scorer, to Detroit for goaltender Al Jensen.

The Capitals already had enough goalies -- Mike Palmateer, Dave Parro, Rollie Boutin, Wayne Stephenson, Gary Inness, Bart Hunter, Neal Girard -- to more than supply their own needs and those of both farm teams. And league scoring champions are in much shorter supply.

But Lofthouse, despite his 103 points last season at Hershey, was basically a one-way player who had trouble coming out of his own zone. In addition, his contract was up and the Capitals had decided they would not offer another.

Jensen, 22, was available and Washington General Manager Max McNab, who has some reservations about his goaltending depth, grabbed him.

Jensen was an all-star goalie for Hamilton of the Ontario Major Junior League in 1978 before the Red Wings drafted him on the second round.

"We're still counting on Palmateer and Parro," McNab said. "But Parro is coming off an operation (shoulder). Stephenson finished (last season) with an aching back. Rollie had his good games, but he had some bad ones, too. Hunter had a good record in Hershey, but the team played exceptional well for him."