As the regular season slides to an end, the Washington Capitals have become one happy hockey team.

Because of a three-goal barrage in 2 1/2 minutes Tuesday night against Boston at Capital Centre, they find themselves in first place in their division. They are healthy. They are almost certain to become the best team -- at least statistically -- in the organization's 12 years. And, when they gaze into their future, they like what they see.

"I think we will be playing Philadelphia April 6 at the Spectrum at the end for first place in the division," Coach Bryan Murray said yesterday. "I think that's great. It's such a turn of events from even February, when we were writing off first place. Not now."

While the Flyers took Tuesday night off, the Capitals leapfrogged over them in the Patrick Division with a 6-3 victory over the Bruins. The Capitals' 101 points equal a club record. The Flyers have 100.

Both teams have six games remaining, four at home and two on the road. At home, the Capitals will play the New York Islanders Friday, Pittsburgh Tuesday, Hartford April 3 and the New York Rangers April 5. Washington will play at Hartford Saturday and at Philadelphia April 6.

The Flyers will play at home against Buffalo Thursday, the Rangers Saturday, the Islanders Tuesday and the Capitals. Their road games are at the Rangers Wednesday and Pittsburgh April 5.

"Anything can happen, but I think the final game will decide it," Murray said.

The Capitals have reason to believe they will do well the last 1 1/2 weeks of the season. That's because this season, they are 4-2 against the Islanders, 5-1 against Pittsburgh, 1-0 against Hartford and 3-3 against the Rangers. However, they are 2-4 against the Flyers.

Murray said winger Greg Adams, who missed the Boston game with bruised ribs, is "100 percent and ready to go again."