BOSTON, JAN. 5 -- Washington's game tonight at Boston Garden was its first against the Bruins since the Wales Conference finals last May and it stirred a few memories for some of the Capitals.

"I remember the first morning skate more than anything," said John Druce, who drew much of the attention in the series because of his scoring prowess in the Patrick Division finals. "There was a lot of attention and a lot of people in the stands watching."

It was the first time the Capitals had made it to the Stanley Cup semifinals, and there was a sense they had arrived at center stage.

"I was very excited, very pumped up," Coach Terry Murray said. "All the attention . . . I was happy for the players, who had worked so hard to get here."

The Capitals led for much of Game 1, but the Bruins came back in the third period, won, 5-3, and went on to take the series, 4-0. It was that first game that stuck with Murray.

"Because I feel in that one we should have come away with a win," he said. "They really fed off that third period for the rest of the series." How Sweet It Was

Capitals assistant coach John Perpich was a senior on the University of Minnesota team that beat Michigan Tech in the 1974 NCAA final in this building. The score? "I remember I scored," Perpich said with a laugh. . . .

Murray juggled lines a bit tonight. He put former Bruin Bob Joyce on Dale Hunter's left wing, with Druce on the right side. "We'll see what we can get from Bob," Murray said of Joyce, who had goals in his previous two games, then was scatched from two. "He knows this building and he knows this team." But Joyce did not score tonight.

Joyce came to the Capitals a year ago for Dave Christian. While the Capitals said months ago they were open to trade offers for Joyce, who also is playing out his option, Christian has settled in nicely with the Bruins. He is second on the team in goals (18) and fourth in points (29), and scored a goal in tonight's Capitals victory.