Ken Houston, who suffered strained ligaments in his right knee when he crashed into the boards during Wednesday's game against Hartford, will be out of action at least another week.

Houston was examined yesterday by Capitals physician Stephen Haas. His knee will remain in a soft cast through this weekend, and treatment for the injury will begin Monday. Haas will reevaluate Houston's condition on Wednesday, and there is a remote possibility he will rejoin the Capitals' lineup for next Saturday's game against Pittsburgh.

Chris Valentine and Ted Bulley are expected to fill Houston's spot until he returns.

Without Houston, the Capitals won the last of their three meetings with the Bruins this season in Boston on Thursday, sweeping that season series, 3-0, with two victories in less than a week.

"It's that time of year when things get tough," said Bruins Coach Gerry Cheevers, whose team was defeated, 6-4, Sunday at Capital Centre. "Look, we played a tough team."

The Capitals, in a head-to-head race with the New York Islanders for second place in the Patrick Division, played the kind of disciplined hockey necessary for a successful playoff team.

"Our plan against them was to move the forwards high on the points, and try to dump the puck up to them when the Bruins threw it in," Murray said. "We got some responsible play. And (goalie) Pat Riggin played very well."

Riggin, who had not played the previous three games (against the Islanders, Bruins and Whalers), faced 40 shots, deflecting or stopping 39 of them.

After Bengt Gustafsson's second goal, at 11:00 of the last period, the Boston broadcasters reminded viewers that the Bruins had not been shut out at home since October of 1977, when Ken Dryden was in goal for the Montreal Canadiens. With each of the Bruins' attempts ending in frustration, it appeared Riggin was ready to update that statistic.

But Riggin was not destined for the record books. He was finally beaten with 1:50 to go when Barry Pederson passed to Mike Krushelnyski who flipped it into the net after Capitals defenseman Rod Langway was frustrated in his attempt to knock the puck away from Krushelnyski's stick. "Not to take anything away from Boston, but maybe a few of their snipers were a little off tonight," Riggin said, appearing untroubled by the single goal.

Asked if Riggin's play in Boston would influence the choice of a playoff goalie, Murray smiled. "It makes it much easier," he replied. "Now I know I've got two guys ready to play going into the playoffs."