As far as the 12,820 fans in Boston Garden were concerned Thursday night, Pete Peeters tilted the big Nov. 14 goaltender trade in the Washington Capitals' favor with his 33-save effort that edged the Bruins, 2-1.

The fans cheered Peeters' introduction and a group of youngsters held up a three-part sign that read "Welcome Back Pete."

"At one point, I thought I was playing with the Bruins again," Peeters said. "It was an emotional night. The Boston fans were great to me my three years here, and it's the same in Washington. It makes it easier to play when the fans are behind you, and it helps make things go smoothly.

"I had a little trouble sleeping in the afternoon, so I read a little, slept a little and came to the rink early. Once I got out there, I felt good. I was confident and, when I stopped a few shots early, I was right in the game."

Statistically, Peeters and Pat Riggin are much the same with their new clubs. Peeters has posted a 13-7-2 record with a 3.51 goals-against average. Riggin is 13-8-3, 3.43.

Riggin very much wanted to play against Washington Thursday. Now he must wait for the Bruins' March 25 visit to Capital Centre for a chance to show the Capitals they made a mistake in dealing him away. Considering Coach Butch Goring's feelings about the situation, Riggin may not play that one, either.

"It's always very tough for a goaltender to play against his old teammates," Goring said. "It works as an advantage for a hockey team to come out and play against its old goaltender. I thought they'd probably get up for Pat Riggin more than Doug Keans and I didn't want to give them any extra edge.

"Pat Riggin has been playing very well, but I don't know if he would have stopped those two or if maybe he would have let in some others."

Asked about Goring's comments, Riggin said, "Sure, I wanted to play. I always want to play. But I do what the coach says. I'm learning."

It was Riggin's occasional disagreements with Washington Coach Bryan Murray, notably over being yanked from a game in Winnipeg, that led to the trade with Boston.

When Riggin arrived here, he was taken aback by printed comments in which Goring indicated that he had not been consulted about the trade and did not want to make it. But things have smoothed out and he won the Bruins' last three games, all on the road, before Keans started Thursday.

"It was a little rough at first, but things are fine now," Riggin said. "They told me that I hadn't made the trade and Butch explained what he said, that a coach had never made a trade yet."

Keans said that he was surprised to be given the assignment Thursday, although he has a history of playing well against Washington without winning very often.

"Pat had won the last three and I thought they'd play Pat," Keans said. "I don't know why Butch called on me, but I was happy to play well. When you play Washington, it's usually a one-goal game and you know if you have a bad night, you'll get blown out."

The Bruins tried to get an early jump on Peeters, who has experienced some first-period problems in recent games, but he handled 15 shots flawlessly in the opening 20 minutes and there was no letdown.

"I wanted Pete to be put in a pressure situation, to see how he responded," Murray said. "He's shown in games where he's been slow to start and tough late that he needs pressure to play under.

"Also, his knowing the rink and the way they forecheck, and his ability to get the puck moving, I felt he was the man to play here. There was another reason, too. I wanted goaltender coach Warren Strelow to have another look, just in case anything needed to be worked on, before Warren goes on the road."

Throughout the game, Peeters lofted the puck out of the Washington end to relieve pressure by the Bruins, who are excellent forecheckers on the small Garden ice. "The Garden's a great rink for me," Peeters said. "Everything comes to the net when they fire it into the corner. I tried to treat it as another hockey game and I think there were times when knowing their players helped me.

"Take Kenny Linseman. He's a great playmaker and he'll hook the blueline and dish off to Charlie Simmer and Keith Crowder . Kenny is always feathering a beautiful backhand pass to a late man. A couple of times, he dished it off to Charlie and I was able to anticipate the play, knowing what was coming."

So, perhaps knowing the shooter is more important than knowing the goaltender.