The Washington Capitals recalled enforcer Stephen Peat from Portland, Maine, yesterday and placed defenseman Jean-Francois Fortin on the injured reserved list with back spasms. Peat has played sparingly in Washington and Portland this season, and had lost his job to Alex Henry, but the Capitals want to add toughness to their fourth line.

Fortin, 23, had an outstanding rookie season but has appeared in only 29 games this season. He has not played since Dec. 30, a span of 24 games that included a minor league conditioning assignment. Coach Bruce Cassidy seems set on his three defensive pairs and said he is not inclined to give a game to Fortin or Rick Berry, who last played Jan. 17. Cassidy does not know when Fortin will be healthy enough to be activated from the injured list, although the injury is not believed to be serious.

"He's out for a little while," Cassidy said. "But in the big picture he wasn't dressing for us anyway, so in that regard it's not like losing one of your top players."

Teams have been playing physical hockey against the Capitals recently, and last night's opponent, Toronto, has a reputation for such tactics. Cassidy used Peat and Henry as fourth-line wingers and scratched Ivan Ciernik, Josh Green and Berry. With two tough guys in the lineup, the Capitals can be more intimidating and aggressive.

"Our team lately has been lacking a bit of zip and maybe that's something [Peat] can bring," Cassidy said. "He'll be given the opportunity to do that. . . . Maybe it's going around that teams are thinking they can take advantage of us and maybe we can go about correcting that. That can't be something our team has to live with night and night out. In general, if that's going to be the other team's game plan, then we're going to have to make sure we can answer it."

Jagr Makes a Wish Come True

Winger Jaromir Jagr met with 9-year-old Christopher Kus, who is suffering from a life-threatening heart condition, after the game.

Kus traveled here from London, Ontario, with his family as part of the Sunshine Dreams for Kids program. His dream was to meet Jagr.