VANCOUVER, OCT. 29 -- While the luggage belonging to the Washington Capitals tumbled down the chute to the carousel at Vancouver International Airport, Don Beaupre was being quizzed about the shutout he registered Sunday night in Edmonton.

"Best goalie in the league," Dale Hunter offered en route to the bus.

It was part compliment, part kidding about the attention such accomplishments bring. It was also Hunter's sarcastic way of reminding everyone that however hot Beaupre might be after two shutouts in three games, it is going to be a long season. There may be more shutouts but also more games like Saturday's nine-goal disaster in Calgary. Mike Liut was in goal for that, but the rest of the team was so bad, Beaupre might not have fared much better.

"He's brutal," Beaupre said of Hunter and his biting wit.

"I remember a couple years ago, when I was still in Minnesota, some guy in New York came out with some stats about the most efficient goalies. I was on top after a month and a half of the season. By the end of the year, I wasn't even taken on the last road trip. That was a farce, anyway. But I just want to take one game at a time."

The Capitals and Beaupre shut out the Oilers, 1-0. It snapped Washington's two-game losing streak, while extending the Oilers' losing streak to four. Beaupre became the first goalie in the NHL to get two shutouts this season, beating the New York Rangers' John Vanbiesbrouck -- who got his second tonight against Quebec -- to the punch. Two is also as many as Beaupre has had in any one season -- junior, minor league or NHL.

Beaupre has played three consecutive strong games, but has also had better support than Liut, if not offensively then at least defensively.

"I've been a bigger factor in games," Beaupre said.

Beaupre's record is 2-3, but the last shutout dropped his goals-against average to 1.81. The only goalie with a better mark (1.68) is Vancouver rookie Troy Gamble -- who may be in the net Tuesday when the Capitals play the Canucks at 10:35 p.m. EST at the Pacific Coliseum.

It is a bit more than 10 years since Beaupre won his first NHL game, defeating the Hartford Whalers, 9-3, while wearing the uniform of the Minnesota North Stars. That season, the North Stars went to the Stanley Cup finals for the first and only time. Beaupre was in for their only victory in the finals against the Islanders.

The Capitals will need a steady Beaupre if they hope to make a significant stand in the playoffs this season.

"I've played real consistently and that helps," Beaupre said of his start. "Over the years, consistency has really been a knock. I don't want to get up on a soap box, but it's tough to play consistently on teams that are not going too well. But here, I think we have a good team and we can win. It really helps a goalie knowing that."

Thursday will be the second anniversary of the trade that brought Beaupre to the Capitals and sent defenseman Claudio Scremin to Minnesota. Beaupre spent most of 1988-89 in the minors, a humbling and sometimes demoralizing experience. Last season with Washington, he carried a huge load early, playing in 16 of 18 games until Liut arrived in March.

"I don't think that's going to happen {again}," Beaupre said. "Somebody might play three or four in a row. I hope it will be that way. A week ago, Terry {Murray} said he was looking for somebody to get hot."

With both goalies playing well, Murray has been secretive about who will play on a particular night. After Beaupre shut out New Jersey on Oct. 20, Murray went back to Liut, who helped the Capitals beat Philadelphia to start this five-game road trip. The guess is that Beaupre will play Tuesday, but Murray could switch again.

"Yeah, I can do it again," Murray said laughing. "Sharing the workload on the road is good. Being the last game of the road trip, and with two days off before the next game, it's probably harder to do."

Beaupre's quality play is surprising given that he didn't report to training camp until two days before the opener. He had played out his option and negotiations took that long. He backed up Liut in the first three games, then played two in Baltimore to get his timing back before rejoining the Capitals.

"I'm usually a slow starter and I need the time in training camp," Beaupre said. "I'm really happy that things are going pretty well after missing most of training camp. I don't think management will go for the idea of having every training camp off."