The Washington Capitals have endured two stretches this season when it has taken them seven games to rack up 10 goals. Last night, it took less than 31 minutes as Washington beat up on the hapless Tampa Bay Lightning, 10-1, at MCI Center.

"I was watching the highlights of the second period, and it took the whole second intermission," said Coach Ron Wilson, whose players set a team record with eight goals in a 10-minute stretch. "Tampa Bay played {Tuesday}, so I'm not going to put a lot on it, but the guys had some fun. We had almost as many scoring chances in other games and just haven't scored -- the difference is the puck going in. Everything we shot went in the net."

Right wing Peter Bondra scored four of Washington's goals, increasing his season total to 21 and his career total to 27 goals in 28 games against the Lightning, while center Adam Oates had three assists, giving him 27 career points in 23 games against Tampa Bay. Right wing Brian Bellows scored two goals, and Calle Johansson, Joe Juneau, James Black and Yogi Svejkovsky chipped in a goal each.

It was noted briefly in the postgame locker room that these feats were accomplished against an 11-35-4 Tampa Bay squad that has been the worst team in the NHL for the last two seasons. But with the 18-26-4 Capitals only two places ahead of the Lightning in the Eastern Conference standings, that disclaimer was quickly discarded.

"They are a desperate team, the same as us," Bondra said. "The puck was finally going in instead of me hitting the goalie's stomachs or hitting the post."

The Lightning started the night with Corey Schwab in net; he was pulled 12 minutes 25 seconds into the second period after allowing five goals on 26 shots. Former Capitals goaltender Bill Ranford came on in relief, but he has been battling a neck bruise for two games and also had a rough night, allowing five goals on 20 shots.

At the other end of the rink Washington goaltender Olaf Kolzig was stellar, despite facing a comparatively scant 22 shots. His key save came about nine minutes into the second period, after Lightning right wing Mike Sillinger tied the score at 1. Facing a two-on-one as Alexandre Daigle and center Chris Gratton barreled down the ice, Kolzig was able to stop Gratton's shot with his chest, defusing what could have been another back-breaking situation for Washington.

There have been several times this season when the Capitals have outplayed their opponents early but fallen apart when they have fallen behind. Last night, that situation was avoided when Bondra followed Kolzig's save with his second goal of the night, starting Washington's biggest scoring binge of the season.

"I made that same save against the Rangers last week, and Niklas Sundstrom scored by putting it under my pad," Kolzig said. "This time Gratton hit it up on my body, I make the save and we go down and score nine goals. There's a fine line between making the big save and not. It seemed to really juice our guys up and the rest is history.

"Hopefully we didn't put all our eggs in one basket tonight and still have something left for the rest of the week, but it's great to see our goal scorers score. It does a lot for their confidence, so in games like {this weekend's} against Carolina and Buffalo, they're not going to be thinking too much. They know they can score now and hopefully the floodgates have opened."

By the end of the night the small but chipper crowd was cheering Wilson every time his face was shown on the Jumbotron. Tampa Bay assistant coach Rick Patterson -- standing in for Coach Jacques Demers, who was at the NHL's general managers meetings -- simply looked defeated.

"Everything that could go wrong defensively, did," Patterson said. "They just ate us up." Capitals Notes: Defenseman Sergei Gonchar's wrist injury is less serious than originally thought. A torn ligament was diagnosed Monday, but a specialist determined yesterday that the tear was actually the remains of an old injury and that this injury is merely a sprain. Gonchar, who was injured in Saturday's loss to Toronto, should miss 10 to 14 days. . . .

The Brad Church project is over. Church, drafted with the Capitals' first pick (17th overall) in 1995, was traded to Edmonton yesterday in exchange for left wing Barrie Moore, an unsigned restricted free agent. The Capitals signed Moore immediately and sent him to their minor league affiliate in Portland, where Church had been playing. Moore, the 220th pick in the 1993 draft, has played 38 career NHL games (34 with Buffalo, four with Edmonton). "We wanted someone who could help Portland right now -- we're very thin there," said Shawn Simpson, who serves as the Capitals' director of hockey operations and as Portland's general manager. . . . Last night marked center Mike Eagles' 800th game. . . . Johansson's goal was the 100th of his career. Double-Digit Capitals The Capitals' 10 goals tied a season high in the NHL. The Rangers beat the Lightning, 10-2, on Nov. 10. Toronto beat Chicago, 10-3, on Nov. 12. Most goals in one game for the Capitals: Date Opponent

Score 2/6/90 Quebec

12-2 12/17/93 Ottawa

11-2 12/11/81 Toronto

11-2 2/3/99 Tampa Bay

10-1 2/13/93 at Los Angeles 10-3 2/11/93 at St. Louis 10-6 11/10/91 at Quebec

10-3 12/6/87 Los Angeles 10-3 3/13/87 Toronto

10-2 11/21/81 Philadelphia 10-4 CAPTION: Kelly Miller and Peter Bondra have many reasons to celebrate as the Capitals racked up a season-high 10 goals, including eight in the second period. ec