In his second exhibition game, Minnesota native Dave Christian got a hat trick tonight to lead the Washington Capitals to their fourth straight victory, a 5-3 decision over the North Stars.

Christian's was the third three-goal game by a Capital in the winning streak, following Bryan Erickson against Calgary and Craig Laughlin against Toronto.

Scott Stevens, playing a rare game at left wing, and another Minnesotan, Erickson, got the Capitals an early 2-1 advantage before Christian took over with a goal in each period.

Peter Andersson, who like Christian and Erickson drew raves as a Canada Cup participant, had three assists in his second straight top-notch effort since returning to the ice.

Al Jensen went the route in the Washington net, stopping 32 shots. He had a particularly difficult time in the second period, as Minnesota outshot the Capitals by 17-6, but he permitted only one goal while under relentless pressure.

Washington dominated play the first 10 minutes, building an 11-0 margin on the shot clock and taking a 1-0 lead when Stevens tapped in a rebound of a shot by Andersson that hit both goalie Don Beaupre's stick and the post to his left.

Minnesota briefly tied it on a goal that should have been disallowed, since Tom McCarthy set up Dino Ciccarelli with a hand pass that the three officials missed.

It took Erickson 23 seconds to get that back, on a two-on-one feed from Stevens. Then Christian took over, rebounding a Mike Gartner shot with 2:20 left in the first period.

After Jiri Poner tapped in a puck that Jensen dropped, Christian scored on a deflection of a drive by Andersson at 16:43 of the middle period. He made the lead 5-2 and beyond reach on a power play with 8:52 left in the game, converting Andersson's long pass from the right point.

"I definitely got a kick out of it," Christian said. "I enjoy playing here. Tonight it was a case of being in the right place at the right time . . . Peter Andersson made the last two goals. He set up the tip-in, which I thought Donny had, and then he saw me open and made a great pass."

Christian was off the ice for nine days after Team USA was eliminated from the Canada Cup, but he practiced last week with seven other players while the team traveled western Canada.

"The rest was good, because we'd already played so much," Christian said. "I'm in good shape. Right now I'm anxious for the season to start, because we ought to be much improved."

The Capitals played tonight without six of last season's regulars. Stevens moved up to the left side because Andre Hidi developed a groin pull and Gaetan Duchesne was scratched to make him eligible for the next three games. Washington plays four nights in a row, the grind continuing Wednesday in Hartford, but under NHL Players Association rules nobody can play more than three straight nights.

"I've played left wing on the power play, but this is the first time I've ever done it in a full game," Stevens said. "It's new, but it's a good thing, a learning experience. Now I know how the wingers feel when we're trying to get it out of our end and I don't give them the puck. And it's nice to forecheck and hit a few guys instead of getting hit chasing the puck. But it was a little harder work; I lost eight pounds."

Stevens, Hidi, Jensen, Gartner, Doug Jarvis and Larry Murphy will skip the Hartford game. Murphy suffered a seven-stitch cut on the bridge of his nose when he was high-sticked by Poner in the third period.

General Manager David Poile said he would make no cuts in the 30-man roster until after the concluding exhibition game, Friday night in Hershey, Pa., against Philadelphia.