Less than 24 hours after the New York Islanders had dominated the Capitals at the Nassau Coliseum in a physical, one-sided game, Washington came back yesterday afternoon to defeat the Boston Bruins, 6-4, before 15,729 at Capital Centre.

"They (Islanders) embarrassed us last night," said Mike Gartner, who scored three consecutive first-period goals for the Capitals yesterday. "They took the game away from us and we knew it. It was good that we were able to come back against the league's No. 1 team like this."

Washington led, 4-0, after the first period, and allowed the Bruins one goal in the second. The Capitals opened a 6-1 lead at 2:40 of the third period on a goal by Doug Jarvis before a Boston surge--three goals in three minutes--got the Bruins close at 14:57. The Capitals held on for their second victory in two games against Boston this season.

By winning, the Capitals climbed back within two points of the second-place Islanders in the Patrick Division.

"I was disappointed to give up a couple late goals, but you've gotta leave a team with a little respect to go home with," deadpanned Coach Bryan Murray of the Capitals. "I think we played for 50 minutes and outskated them most of it."

In contrast to their play a day before, the Capitals came out playing a more physical game, standing up to the Bruins and controlling the action for most of the afternoon.

Gartner's first two goals came only 20 seconds apart and set the tone for Washington's play. "I've been getting the chances, but they just haven't been going in," he said. "And today the first three shots went right into the net."

Set up once by Scott Stevens, who passed it across the ice to Gartner near Pete Peeters' crease, and twice by Dennis Maruk, once on a power play, Gartner's three goals gave him his second "natural" (uninterrupted by other goals) hat trick of his career.

Glen Currie, playing on a line with Jarvis and Bob Gould, scored the fourth goal of the opening period, skating into Boston's end in a footrace against Rick Middleton. Peeters came out and Currie tapped the puck into the back of the net at 19:51 for a 4-0 lead.

Boston, which still has the league's best record (45-17-8), came back in the second period with a goal by Brad Park at 9:04. But just more than a minute later, on a Capitals power play, Alan Haworth took a pass from Greg Theberge and aimed it behind Peeters for a 5-1 edge.

And less than three minutes into the third, Jarvis slapped the puck into the net from the blueline. "Doug's been hiding that blueline blast all year," Murray said later. Murray had juggled the lines considerably, with an eye toward the playoffs. "We'd like to get him into a postion where he'll be against the (Islanders' Bryan) Trottier line most of the time."

Jarvis, pleased with his own goal, still expressed some concern about the team's late letup. "We've got to learn to be more consistent," he said. "We've got to work on being a 60-minute team. You don't like to see those lapses."

But the Capitals did lapse, as the Bruins started pressing midway through the last period. First Craig MacTavish poked the puck into the net while Al Jensen sprawled on the ice, too far out of the net to stop it. Then Peter McNab's shot dribbled into the cage two minutes later at 14:18, as the Capitals' control of the game deteriorated even further.

Spurred by those two goals, Boston began to take charge, forcing play into the Washington end. When Randy Holt tried to reverse the play, he left the puck trailing near Jensen's cage, and Dave Barr tucked it into the Capitals' net at 14:57 to cut the lead to 6-4. But the Capitals regained enough poise to prevent further damage and Jensen had his 19th victory of the season, a club record.