Washington Capitals forward Dainius Zubrus underwent surgery on his right hand today that will keep him out four to six weeks. Zubrus, who was just beginning to become a major factor again, had a bone fragment removed.

Team orthopedic surgeons Ben Shaffer and Richard Barth performed the successful surgery in the afternoon. Late last season, when the bulging fragment first appeared on the back of Zubrus's hand, he received a cortisone shot and was put in a cast for a week; when the cast was removed Zubrus went on to have an outstanding finish to the season.

He missed all of training camp negotiating a new contract and had no problems with his hand, did not score in the first 18 games and began to complain about the hand again after being slashed eight days ago.

Zubrus, 24, received another shot recently, missed a few games and left Sunday's game after one period complaining about the soreness. He opted to have the bump removed after consulting with a hand specialist today rather than continue to play with the discomfort.

"It's been bothering him for a while," General Manager George McPhee said. "And it's one of those things you can either tolerate and play with and hope it slows down, or you can't stand the pain and you have to do something. It seemed to get better last week, but then flared up again Sunday. This should totally eradicate the issue so it won't bother him anymore."

McPhee said he had no immediate plans to recall any forwards from the minors to fill the void; journeyman Kip Miller is likely to return to a top line in the interim.

Sharks Closing In on Wilson

Ron Wilson, who coached Washington for five years, is close to becoming the head coach of the San Jose Sharks, NHL sources said tonight. The decision should come in the next two days. . . .

Defenseman Jason Doig, who was recalled Monday, made his Capitals debut tonight against Pittsburgh and could play regularly, Coach Bruce Cassidy said. . . .

Defenseman Jean-Francois Fortin remains out with a stomach virus. Defenseman Steve Eminger and winger Alex Henry were scratched. . . .

Forward Andreas Salomonsson cleared waivers and reported to Portland, Maine. . . .

Forward Michal Sivek, who was traded to Pittsburgh along with Kris Beech and Ross Lupaschuk for Jaromir Jagr in July 2001, made his NHL debut for the Penguins over the weekend. The other two prospects remain in the minors.