Less than 24 hours after scoring his 29th and 30th goals of the season, Washington Capitals winger Mike Gartner learned he had been selected to play in his fourth National Hockey League all-star game, this one scheduled for Feb. 9 in St. Louis.

That's hardly a surprise for a player who has played in three of the last five all-star games and is the Capitals' all-time leader in goals, assists and games.

What is surprising is that he'll be in a traveling party of one. Although the Capitals have the NHL's third-best goals-against average, no Washington defender made the team, which was selected by Philadelphia Flyers Coach Mike Keenan.

Instead of Rod Langway or Scott Stevens of the Capitals, Keenan chose defensemen Denis Potvin of the New York Islanders, Larry Robinson of the Montreal Canadiens and two of his Flyers -- Mark Howe and Kjell Samuelsson. They were among 14 players named to complete the Prince of Wales Conference team by Keenan yesterday.

Gartner, 28, also was named to the all-star game during the 1980-81, 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons. His selection yesterday was a reward for a big first half and was another reason to forget last year, when he had only 10 goals and 25 points in the first half (and 31 goals and 48 points in the second).

"He's had a good first half, no question," Capitals Coach Bryan Murray said.

Gartner said he was again thrilled at getting a chance to play, saying, "It never gets old hat. It's an honor and, as far as I'm concerned, seven or eight of our guys could have made it."

He admitted feeling some extra pressure to score during the recent scoring slump. "I think there's always a little pressure on me in a situation like that because I'm paid to score goals," he said. "If you're winning, it's a different story."

Murray had no explanation for none of his defensemen making it, saying, "Defense has been our strength, and we've had three or four indviduals playing awfully well. Looking at who was picked it comes down to him {Keenan} taking his own players, and I understand that. Put in a similar situation, I might do the same thing. But I'm sure from our players' point of view, we had to think one guy in our defensive corps would make it."

Gartner's second two-goal game in a row, along with two goals from Michal Pivonka, helped the Capitals to a 6-4 victory over New Jersey at Capital Centre Tuesday night. That victory was only the Capitals' second in their last six games, but also was the beginning of a five-game homestand, their longest of the season.

The victory pushed the Capitals back above .500, to 22-21-5, and was an especially sweet one for goalie Pete Peeters (7-6-2), who got his first victory since Dec. 22 and his first complete game since Dec. 23. In a season when he has suffered four nagging injuries, Peeters is again hoping his bad days are behind him.

He stopped 27 shots and Murray referred to his performance as "a really solid effort."

His day didn't start so well. He allowed New Jersey a 1-0 lead 48 seconds into the game when he was caught flat-footed as Claude Loiselle stole the puck from Washington's Greg Adams and flipped it past Peeters.

"I wasn't too happy after that first goal," Peeters said. "But after that, I settled down. They made a couple of great plays and got a good bounce for the fourth goal. I've been inactive for quite a while, so it's nice to get a win and some ice time on the same night.

"I've never had a year like this one before -- never. It's tough when you come back to get used to things. A couple of times out there, I was doing the worst thing a hockey player can do, and that's think instead of react. But everything clicked so well . . . We were making the same plays in St. Louis but the puck wasn't going in the net. Maybe this will get us going."

Penguins 8, Blackhawks 3:

Defenseman Paul Coffey had his fifth career hat trick and Mario Lemieux had a goal and two assists to surpass the 100-point mark for the fourth straight season as Pittsburgh won easily in Chicago.

Sabres 5, Bruins 3:

Christian Ruuttu set up four goals to lead host Buffalo to a penalty-filled victory.