A month ago in Boston, Pete Peeters made the Great November Goaltender Swap look good for Washington with a 33-save effort that beat the Bruins, 2-1.

Tonight, Pat Riggin gets his chance to show that Boston was not shortchanged, as he returns to Capital Centre for a game that is important to both teams in the standings.

For the second straight Tuesday, the Capitals will try to redeem a game in hand for a one-point Patrick Division lead over Philadelphia. The previous effort failed, in a 5-2 loss to Los Angeles.

"We got a tremendous lesson last week," said Washington Coach Bryan Murray. "Tomorrow we're playing a team we recognize as a good, solid hockey club. Motivation should be no problem. And we were home today and had a good practice, where last week we played in Pittsburgh the night before and had no chance to focus on the Kings."

Murray does not expect the Flyers to stumble down the stretch, so he has told his team that it cannot afford a defeat, either, if that April 6 finale at the Spectrum is to decide first place.

Bolstering the offense for the stretch run is the likely return of center Alan Haworth, who missed the last six games after suffering a minor fracture of the ulna at the right wrist March 11 against Pittsburgh. Haworth participated in a full workout yesterday and a decision will be made after this morning's skate.

"It's still sore in some positions, but if I wait till it's perfect I'll probably wait two months," Haworth said. "I want to get in there."

Although they come here with a six-game unbeaten streak, the Bruins are in a race for a playoff berth in the competitive Adams Division. They stand third with 78 points, two behind Montreal and two ahead of Buffalo, while Hartford remains a threat with 75.

The Bruins' need to win has taken some of the emotional edge off Riggin's return, as the goalie noted yesterday.

"I'm sure I'll be up for it, but I'd be up for New Jersey because of the standings situation," Riggin told The Boston Globe. "Of course I'll be nervous, but once I make that first save I'm sure I'll be on my way. They know me and I know them. It's a 50-50 deal."

Riggin had nothing but praise for the Capitals, while noting that he still felt disappointed by the Nov. 14 trade for Peeters.

"When I went to camp, I had every intention of having a banner year with the Caps," Riggin said. "I expected them to do well and, of course, they are doing well. Their work ethic is the best I've ever seen, from the general manager to the coach to the players to the stickboy.

"I didn't leave on bitter terms. I was disappointed because I knew they were on their way. Murray didn't like the way I was playing and we talked about it, but a trade was never mentioned. He'd talk about two bad goals and forget that maybe I'd made eight really good saves."

When Riggin arrived in Boston, he was greeted by comments from Coach Butch Goring to the effect that Goring had not made the trade, did not want it and could not understand General Manager Harry Sinden's thinking. Six games ago, however, Goring told Riggin he was the man in the stretch and the Bruins have not lost since.

Goring withheld Riggin from the teams' last meeting, when Peeters made such a big splash in Boston Garden. There had been speculation Goring might go with Doug Keans again tonight, but he cut that short yesterday.

"I'm still convinced that when you play against a former goaltender, you really get up," Goring said. "But given the standings situation now, Washington is up, regardless, and we're up, regardless."

Where Riggin was a spectator last time, Peeters will be an onlooker tonight. Al Jensen, who replaced Peeters after two periods Sunday and earned the 6-5 victory over Philadelphia, gets the assignment.

Ironically, Jensen will be bidding for his 28th win of the season and, if he gets it, would tie Riggin's club record of last season.

In another interesting twist, Riggin was the loser a year ago when Boston came into Capital Centre and prevailed, 3-2, knocking Washington out of first place for good.

Asked about the prospect of facing Riggin, Murray said, "He's playing pretty well and from what I've seen of the videotape he's been making some real good stops. They're winning, so obviously he's doing a good job for them."

Dwight Schofield, who marks his 30th birthday today, drove away from yesterday's practice with balloons attached to his personalized SCONAN license plate . . . Their junior seasons completed, centers Claude Dumas of Granby and Steve Hollett of Sault Ste. Marie have joined the Binghamton Whalers . . . If the Capitals win tonight, they will have 101 points, matching the final figure of their last two seasons.