Two weeks ago the Capitals went to Hartford with a 14-game winless streak, playing their third game in four nights, and came away with a 4-0 victory over the Whalers.

Saturday night the Capitals returned with a seven-game undefeated streak, once again facing their third game in four nights, and were blown off the ice by Hartford, 6-2.

The difference this time was not the Whalers, who were winning only their fourth game of the season, but the Capitals, obviously drained emotionally by Friday's 5-2 victory over Montreal and the dramatic 4-4 tie at Minnesota on Wednesday.

The goaltending was a key, as well. The Capitals were shaky on the previous visit, but goalie Dave Parro made 44 saves, many sensational, to keep the Whalers off the scoreboard.

This time Parro was in the stands, nursing a sore left shoulder that was bruised by a Mike Gartner shot in practice Wednesday. Coach Bryan Murray wanted Parro to play, to the extent that he utilized the Civic Center ice at noon Saturday exclusively for the goalie.

"I didn't take any shots, but I couldn't even hit the puck without pain," Parro said. "I've got some mobility in the shoulder, but it's very tender. The muscles and nerves are messed up."

X-rays showed no fracture, so healing is just a matter of time. Murray hopes that Parro will be ready to play Wednesday, when the Capitals return to action at Capital Centre against the Calgary Flames.

Although Mike Palmateer performed capably in the three games preceding the Whaler debacle, Murray would prefer to see Parro in the nets.

Palmateer was skating all over his end of the ice at Hartford, and by the middle of the second period he was nearly exhausted. After he failed to move on a shot by Mark Renaud that made it 5-0, Murray called in backup Al Jensen.

"I didn't think we got that many good stops," Murray said. "Mike appeared to be tired out there, and that's understandable. He had been outstanding in the three games before this one.

"He has his way of playing the game. You can talk to him about it, but once he gets out there, it doesn't seem to change anything. If he performs, I won't change his style."

Murray has made few mistakes since he took over Nov. 11, but he may have made one in not slipping Alan Hangsleben into the lineup Saturday. The Capitals could have used a rested player with some extra spark and Hangsleben, who did not play Friday, usually plays intensely against the Whalers, for whom he toiled for five seasons.

"He hasn't shown me that characteristic," Murray demurred. "He hasn't played a lot, but he will be rotated into the lineup."

Murray was not overly critical with the 19 who did skate in Hartford.

"We just weren't mentally very sharp for it," Murray said. "We've been pushing so hard, and that was a pretty emotional win over Montreal. When you win in front of 18,000 people in your own building and everybody's high, it's difficult to get up again the next night, particularly against a team like Hartford." Capitals' Will to Win ---Lost to Emotional Fatigue By Robert Fachet Washington Post Staff Writer

Two weeks ago the Capitals went to Hartford with a 14-game winless streak, playing their third game in four nights, and came away with a 4-0 victory over the Whalers.

Saturday night the Capitals returned with a seven-game undefeated streak, once again facing their third game in four nights, and were blown off the ice by Hartford, 6-2.

The difference this time was not the Whalers, who were winning only their fourth game of the season, but the Capitals, obviously drained emotionally by Friday's 5-2 victory over Montreal and the dramatic 4-4 tie at Minnesota on Wednesday.

The goaltending was a key, as well. The Capitals were shaky on the previous visit, but goalie Dave Parro made 44 saves, many sensational, to keep the Whalers off the scoreboard.

This time Parro was in the stands, nursing a sore left shoulder that was bruised by a Mike Gartner shot in practice Wednesday. Coach Bryan Murray wanted Parro to play, to the extent that he utilized the Civic Center ice at noon Saturday exclusively for the goalie.

"I didn't take any shots, but I couldn't even hit the puck without pain," Parro said. "I've got some mobility in the shoulder, but it's very tender. The muscles and nerves are messed up."

X-rays showed no fracture, so healing is just a matter of time. Murray hopes that Parro will be ready to play Wednesday, when the Capitals return to action at Capital Centre against the Calgary Flames.

Although Mike Palmateer performed capably in the three games preceding the Whaler debacle, Murray would prefer to see Parro in the nets.

Palmateer was skating all over his end of the ice at Hartford, and by the middle of the second period he was nearly exhausted. After he failed to move on a shot by Mark Renaud that made it 5-0, Murray called in backup Al Jensen.

"I didn't think we got that many good stops," Murray said. "Mike appeared to be tired out there, and that's understandable. He had been outstanding in the three games before this one.

"He has his way of playing the game. You can talk to him about it, but once he gets out there, it doesn't seem to change anything. If he performs, I won't change his style."

Murray has made few mistakes since he took over Nov. 11, but he may have made one in not slipping Alan Hangsleben into the lineup Saturday. The Capitals could have used a rested player with some extra spark and Hangsleben, who did not play Friday, usually plays intensely against the Whalers, for whom he toiled for five seasons.

"He hasn't shown me that characteristic," Murray demurred. "He hasn't played a lot, but he will be rotated into the lineup."

Murray was not overly critical with the 19 who did skate in Hartford.

"We just weren't mentally very sharp for it," Murray said. "We've been pushing so hard, and that was a pretty emotional win over Montreal. When you win in front of 18,000 people in your own building and everybody's high, it's difficult to get up again the next night, particularly against a team like Hartford."