Capital Centre looked like a shooting gallery last night, as the Capitals and Kings scored a total of 16 goals in Los Angeles' 9-7 victory.

"I'm embarrassed," Coach Bryan Murray said. "Every thing we've worked so hard to achieve in this organization . . . and then to play whatever we played--lack of defense, lack of discipline . . . " Murray shook his head in disgust, much as the 9,422 who attended the game booed their displeasure.

Los Angeles had lost its last four games, and the last eight on the road, and had been outscored by 25-10 in its last three games. Coach Don Perry, grinning, was relieved by the victory, saying, "We knew we had to win a game before the morale faded right away. This was not exactly a battle of the defense, was it?"

Hardly that. Los Angeles skated to a two-goal lead within the first two minutes, and the shooting escalated from there. Marcel Dionne got a hat trick and assisted on three goals, and his linemate Dean Hopkins got two goals.

"He's not a real goal scorer, but he body checks well and created opportunities for himself," Dionne said.

Dionne began the scoring from Hopkins at 54 seconds, and fed the puck to his other winger, Daryl Evans, less than a minute later.

Washington got back into the game on Bengt Gustafsson's goal, off Mike Gartner's rebound, but remained flat throughout the first period, giving L.A. another goal on Terry Ruskowski's shot at 15:10.

Pat Riggin, in goal for the Capitals, was visibly upset after the game, and said, "I did not play that badly." Murray said of his goalie, "Maybe the obvious question is why I didn't pull Riggin, when seven of the nine goals were point-blankers. To do that could have been the ruination of the man. And besides, it was certainly not Pat Riggin's fault any more than that of some others."

Murray said his game plan going in was not to get into a shooting match with the Kings. "Our whole strategy was to really control them for the first 10-12 minutes of the game so that our younger legs could be a factor," he said.

"I had watched tapes of the L.A. game with Montreal. They had a lot of chances in the third period." Last night, Murray said, "Some of our people were careless. We knew we couldn't get into a shootout with them with all those scorers they've got."

But in the second period, the Capitals did a little scoring of their own. Greg Theberge scored a power play goal 51 seconds in, Mike Gartner scored short-handed and Dennis Maruk got two.

But there was Dionne again, and his sidekick Hopkins, spoiling the Capitals' 4-3 and 5-4 leads. Riggin thought he was safe just before Hopkins' goal at 12:03, having come out, made the stop and sent the puck back into play. But Hopkins, parked right in front of the net, took the puck from Dionne and smacked it into the net.

Mike Murphy pushed the Kings' lead to 6-5 and Charlie Simmer's goal at 19:51 made it 7-5 after two periods.

No Capitals players would talk about the loss, and Murray, who had plenty to say to his club between periods, said he didn't talk to them when it was over. "I couldn't say any more," he said. "They know what I feel about it."

Still lacking consistent forechecking, the Capitals did get two goals--Doug Jarvis deflected Timo Blomqvist's shot from the blueline and Chris Valentine scored unassisted--and a bunch of chances in the last period, but Dionne and Hopkins shot down any Washington hopes with a goal and assist each.Picture 1, Dennis Maruk is brought down near crease by Ulf Isaksson but gives Capitals 4-3 lead with second-period goal past goalie Mike Blake of Kings.; Picture 2, Goalie Pat Riggin of Capitals had lost stick but tries to stop shot by Kings anyway. He failed. Photos by Richard Darcey -- The Washington Post