NEW YORK, DEC. 17 -- The Washington Capitals' newest Soviet import, Dimitri Khristich, rejoined the squad after a weekend with the Baltimore Skipjacks, but did not play in tonight's game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

"I'm glad I'm back," Khristich said through interpreter John Chapin.

The three-game AHL experience may eventually pay off, but it was not without its rocky moments. The Skipjacks lost two of the games and Khristich did not have any points. And the Skipjacks weren't entirely happy to see him, with several players being quoted as saying they were bothered by what they perceived to be preferential treatment of the 21-year-old.

"I don't have any comment on that," Khristich said.

As for playing in his first NHL game, Khristich said, "I'm ready but I understand that it is hard mixing up the lineup now."

Capitals Coach Terry Murray said he didn't use Khristich tonight partly because it would have meant a fourth game in four nights.

"We'll practice {Tuesday} in Chicago and then make some decisions after that," Murray said. The Capitals will meet the Blackhawks Wednesday night and then play in St. Louis on Thursday.

"There were no stats to speak of, in terms of goals or assists, but I think we accomplished what tried to accomplish," Murray said. "We wanted to get him playing, get used to new equipment, and get adjusted to the North American style, if that's possible in three games. He is a young player and we'll give him every opportunity to be successful, and he's going to be successful." Extra Action for Tatarinov

Soviet Mikhail Tatarinov got into his first NHL fight Saturday night, against Hartford's Dean Evason. "Last year in Japan, I had a good one with {Hartford's} Ulf Samuelsson," Tatarinov said through Chapin. . . .

Michal Pivonka, bothered by a sore knee, played tonight. Tim Bergland returned to the lineup, with Steve Leach scratched.

This isn't the best time for Leach to be in a slump. He had been playing with Dale Hunter and John Druce, and it's possible Khristich will go in as the left wing on that line with Druce returning to the right side.