Capitals pictures -- The caption on Page D1 in some Sunday editions misidentified two players. Mike Lalor was handling the puck with the Sabres' Donald Audette in pursuit. NHL standings -- The NHL standings in some Sunday editions contained outdated information because of a computer error. (Published 11/12/90) Capitals Picture -- The caption on Page D1 in some Sunday editions misidentified two players. Mike Lalor was handling the puck with the Sabres' Donald Audette in pursuit. Lalor's name was misspelled in a correction that ran in some Monday editions. (Published 11/13/90)

Winning streaks eventually end and the nifty five-game run of the Washington Capitals is now history. And for a fleeting moment last night, they thought their top defenseman might be also.

The resurgent Buffalo Sabres played the smart, tight-checking game so emblematic of their Adams Division and defeated the Capitals, 4-2, last night in front of 16,611 at Capital Centre.

The locals were hoping to see some of the magic that the Capitals displayed on the road in four of their last five games. But the Capitals never led and then had a scare in the third period.

Kevin Hatcher went down in a heap with 14:26 left in the game after taking a hip -- buttocks, actually -- check from defenseman Mike Ramsey. Hatcher was holding his left knee, then, with two teammates supporting him, left the ice. The initial prognosis looked good though.

"The doctor moved his knee around to see if there was ligament damage, and he said there was not," Coach Terry Murray said. "It looks like it might be a hyperextension."

Team physician Frank Melograna examined Hatcher last night. Carl MacCartee, who handles some of the orthopedic work, will examine Hatcher before tonight's game against Boston. A Capitals spokesman said the injury did not appear serious enough to warrant an early-morning visit to a hospital or office. That seems a good sign, but Hatcher isn't at all likely to play against the Bruins.

"I felt the blood go out of my arm," said Ron Salcer, Hatcher's agent, of Mary-Ann Hatcher grabbing his arm at the sight of her injured husband.

Murray said Ramsey's check was clean.

"It's a play a lot of defensemen make," Murray said.

The Sabres, who have lost only one of their last eight games, got goals from Benoit Hogue, Uwe Krupp, Pierre Turgeon and Mikko Makela. Former Capitals goalie Clint Malarchuk won his second game in two nights and raised his record to 5-2-1.

The Capitals were undone in the second period. Mike Ridley had tied the game at 1-1, but the Sabres went ahead 3-1. John Druce scored his team-high ninth goal but that only cut the deficit to 3-2 and Makela scored with 33 seconds left into the Capitals net that Mike Liut vacated.

"They had the momentum after the second goal, but we kept dumping the puck out," Malarchuk said. "We played smart and I think that frustrated them."

Liut made two good stops early in the first period, but the Sabres didn't get another shot until 1:49 remained in the period. Unfortunately for the Capitals, it went in. Alexander Mogilny knocked the puck away from Bob Rouse. Dale Hawerchuk collected it and fed Hogue for a slap shot that Liut got some, but not enough, of.

"The goal near the end of the first period might have been part of the reason we came out a little flat in the second," said Ridley, who scored a power play goal with 9:47 left in the period for a 1-1 tie.

But in a four-on-four situation, Krupp swung in to pick up a bouncing puck, which he put past Liut for a 2-1 edge with 5:02 left. On a power play, Turgeon jammed home his own rebound for a 3-1 lead with 1:37 left in the second. Druce scored early in the third off Peter Bondra's rebound, but it wasn't enough.

"It was a game where we did a lot of good things," Murray said. "But the second period seems to be the period that doesn't go as well as the first or third. It's been that way from day one."