The Washington Capitals' leading scorer, Peter Bondra, left last night's 6-1 blowout of Montreal after feeling a twinge in his left knee on his first shift. Bondra, who missed three weeks after minor arthroscopic surgery on the knee Dec. 5, was playing in his fourth game since the operation.

The Capitals said the winger left the game for precautionary reasons and is day-to-day. Coach Ron Wilson used several wingers in Bondra's spot on the top line with Adam Oates and Chris Simon with good results. Bondra said before the game that his knee was feeling better each game, but still was not 100 percent. He was thinking about the tender area less before aggravating it.

"We'll see how it feels [today]," Bondra said. "Maybe I will skate. I felt a little bit something wrong with it and we iced it down for a little while and hopefully I'll be playing next game."

Wilson said there is no fear that the injury could be something major and hopes to have the former 50-goal scorer back in the lineup shortly. "I don't expect it to be very long," Wilson said. "This is minor."

Bondra, who broke a six-game point-less streak with an assist last night, has not scored since Nov. 27 (seven games); the Capitals are 5-7-3 since then. He is the only Capital with a double-digit goal total through 37 games (13); the team is 6-2-2 when he scores and 8-14-5 when he does not. Bondra was working himself back into game shape and getting the jump back in his skating stride, but still looking to boost his confidence by finding the back of the net.

"I thought I'd jump right in the game and I believe I felt pretty good," Bondra said. "I'm working hard, which is very important, and hopefully I will have a little bit better luck the next few games. With a couple better breaks it would be a different game for us. Maybe right now the luck is not there and maybe right now I'm pressing too hard because every game is so big for us. . . .

"The games are very important for us and we must win if we want to have a chance to make the playoffs, and I believe we have a good enough team to do that. . . . If I get a goal, I will have more confidence and start to relax a little more and all of a sudden things open up."