UNIONDALE, N.Y., NOV. 3 -- Terry Murray likes nothing better than to talk about team play. "Everybody's got to contribute," is the usual refrain.

The idea looked right tonight as his Washington Capitals got contributions from all sorts to win their fourth straight game. This time the vanquished were the New York Islanders, 5-2, in front of 11,856 at the Nassau Coliseum.

"Everyone is chipping in every other night," said captain Rod Langway. "That's why we are winning. The big thing, in my opinion, is that we're giving up three goals or less per game. It's starts with the goaltending on out."

Jim Hrivnak played well in his first start this season and first appearence since being called up Thursday to replace injured Don Beaupre. But there were others who pitched in -- in ways normal and abnormal.

Langway was at the top of that list. His game has never been scoring, but he'd prefer it if years didn't pass between goals. Langway scored that all-important overtime goal to win Game 4 of the Patrick Division finals last spring, but he went 91 regular season games between goals. His goal tonight followed one by defenseman Bob Rouse, another player stronger in the Capitals end.

Rookie John Purves scored his first goal (in his second NHL game) for a 3-0 lead. The Islanders never drew any closer than two goals, as the Capitals got third-period scores from Dale Hunter and Kevin Hatcher (into an empty net).

"It's defense more than anything," Murray said of the winning streak. "Offensively, I think it will eventually come from the people we expect it to come from."

There are some folks who theoretically should be scoring more, but that is always less of a problem when the result is a victory. The franchise's longest winning streak is 10 games. The Capitals will try for five Tuesday night in Quebec City.

The Islanders, meanwhile, beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, Friday to become the first victorious visitors at Madison Square Garden this season. But they were a different squad tonight. Only Pat LaFontaine, who scored both Islanders goals, lived up to Friday night's standards.

"We didn't come out of the shoot," said Islanders goalie Glenn Healy, who returned from the team's crowded injury list to win the Rangers game. "We don't have a lot of talent on this team. We have to have everybody playing within the system and within their capabilities to win. We were on such a high {Friday} night, but you have to remember the hard work it took to get that win."

The first period took about 15 minutes longer than it should have because Capital Rob Murray checked Joe Reekie into the boards and the plexiglass shattered. Though the score was 0-0 and neither team had much edge, Murray was worried about the first few minutes after what was essentially an early intermission. But, as he said, "we scored what I thought would be a big goal."

About three minutes after play resumed, Rouse scored his second goal for a 1-0 lead with 9:22 left. Langway hadn't scored a regular season goal since Feb. 17, 1989, in Edmonton, but his slap shot off Islanders defenseman Cragi Ludwig hit home for a 2-0 lead 60 seconds before the scheduled first intermission.

Ludwig, who was benched for the last two games for the first time in years, had his evening deteriorate from there. He was covering Purves cutting to the net. But Ludwig, Purves and the puck (passed by Dave Tippett) arrived en masse at Healy's feet. The puck went in off Purves, and Ludwig landed on his goalie.

LaFontaine deflected in Pat Flatley's shot for a power-play goal with 4:25 gone in the second period, cutting the Islanders' deficit to 3-1.

But New York then lost Brent Sutter, who was hit above the eye by a shot, and Ludwig, who was given five minutes and a game misconduct for high-sticking Tippett. (Late in the third, Jeff Norton dislocated his shoulder in a fight with John Druce.) Hunter scored 18 seconds into Ludwig's penalty for a 4-1 lead.

With Mike Ridley draped on him, LaFontaine rerouted a shot with 10:49 left, but Hatcher finished the Islanders with an empty-net goal with eight seconds left.

"We were two goals down and then we started to play," said the Islanders' Don Maloney. "But Washington did play well."