LAKE PLACID, N.Y., SEPT. 12 -- Coach Terry Murray has decided on the goaltending combinations for the Washington Capitals' three exhibition games this weekend.

Mike Liut will start Friday night's opener against the New York Rangers at Baltimore Arena. Murray said Liut would play about half the game, with Jim Hrivnak finishing. The teams will meet again Saturday night in Albany, with Hrivnak and Shawn Simpson splitting the duty.

On Sunday, when the Capitals play the Hartford Whalers at the Scope in Norfolk, Liut and Olie Kolzig will handle the chores.

Not all players will make the trip to each game. Murray said about 35 players will see action in at least one of the three games.

"You want to get the veterans into two games, but you still want to get a look at the new guys," he said. "Obviously, some of the young guys are not ready to play in the NHL exhibition game and you don't want to put them in something they are not comfortable with. But with somebody like Peter Bondra, I want to see him in a couple of exhibition games to get an idea of what he is capable of handling." Poile Negotiating

General Manager David Poile spoke today with Ron Simon, the agent for free-agent goalie Don Beaupre, but there was still some ground separating them.

Poile did not speak with Ron Salcer, the agent for holdout defenseman Kevin Hatcher. But Salcer said he set up a conference call so he and Hatcher could speak with Bob Goodenow, the head of the players' union.

"Bob talked to Kevin and told him to hang in there," Salcer said. "So Kevin is hearing from other people, too."

Hatcher and Goodenow could not be reached for comment. Gardner Added to Scouts

The Capitals have added to their scouting staff this year.

Paul Gardner, 34, who played seven seasons in the NHL, has been hired as a pro scout. Gardner will be based in Toronto and scout NHL and minor league games. In addition, Keith Allain, Craig Channell, Mike Humitz, Jeff MacLean, Kelly Pratt and Rudy Crha will be team scouts for this season. Bruce Hamilton was named the team's chief western scout. . . .

Aspiring national anthem singers might consider auditioning for the Capitals' job when the team holds tryouts Sept. 18 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Call Laura Burroughs for more information at 350-3400. Glenn Cunningham, who handled the vocal chores for the past few years, has moved to Indianapolis.