The Capitals will be looking for their first road victory of the season tonight when they travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens. For that to happen, they will have to shore up a defense that has lacked consistency so far this season.

Washington may have three significant lineup changes tonight. Goalie Don Beaupre might start his first game of the season and defenseman Chris Felix and left wing Steve Maltais, called up from Baltimore after Saturday night's 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers, are expected to play.

But the status of two key players on offense is uncertain for tonight's game. Steve Leach (concussion) has not played the last two games. Peter Zezel, who left Saturday's game after injuring his ankle sliding into the boards, also is doubtful.

Beaupre spent the weekend playing for Baltimore as a conditioning assignment. A Capitals' spokesman was not sure if Beaupre would get the call tonight to give Mike Liut a rest. Liut has started all five games in the team's 2-3 season.

Goalie Jim Hrivnak was called up Friday to serve as backup while Beaupre was playing in Baltimore. With Beaupre back, Hrivnak was returned to Baltimore yesterday. Hrivnak played the entire third period Saturday.

After allowing an average of five goals in their first three games, the Capitals' defense tightened Friday night after falling behind, 1-0, against Winnipeg. Washington evened the game later in the period on a power-play goal by Kelly Miller. Nick Kypreos scored twice in the second period in the 3-1 win.

"I hope that wasn't an aberration," Capitals Coach Terry Murray said of the the Winnipeg victory.

On Saturday night, it looked as if it was exactly that as the Rangers jumped out to a 5-0 advantage.

Former Capital Mike Gartner opened the scoring with a breakaway goal in the first minute. Troy Mallette scored twice and Brian Leetch and Brian Mullen added goals.

The Capitals play at New Jersey on Wednesday before returning home to meet the Islanders on Friday and New Jersey on Saturday.