LANDOVER — LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals missed an opportunity to prove themselves a force in the Atlantic Division last night at USAir Arena. And when the New Jersey Devils won, 5-2, they did more than defeat the Capitals. They exposed at least a momentary rift between Capitals goalie Rick Tabaracci and his coach, Terry Murray. "You have to get stops from your goaltender," said Murray, who pulled Tabaracci after he gave up New Jersey's fourth goal in 18 shots with 6:59 to go in the second period. "You'll have to talk to the goaltender about it," said Murray, when asked how there could be such a turnaround from one game to the next. "It's mental preparation. He's going to say he was ready, but when you get beat from the blue line, when your positioning is not solid, your fundamentals are not good, you get racing out there and you get yourself out of position very quickly." Tabaracci had a different view. "Terry's the coach, not the goaltender," Tabaracci said. "He doesn't know how I feel. I didn't think I played that badly. I was surprised when he took me out, and I know I've had far worse nights than that." It was particularly disappointing for the Capitals, who with Tabaracci in the net last Sunday, shut out the Devils, 4-0. It was Washington's second loss in two games, its 10th loss to an Atlantic Division team and its 15th to an Eastern Conference ** foe. Washington begins a three-game Eastern Conference trip today at Quebec, before playing at Montreal and Florida. Last night's loss also dropped the Capitals below .500. "We played awful. That's all there is to it," Washington's Mike Ridley said. "We didn't play like a team. We played like a bunch of individuals. I think we were standing around, patting ourselves on the back because we thought we'd played a few good games in a row. But you have to keep it up. You can't ever let up like we did for two periods here." In Murray's words, "There were too many passengers," and he was incredulous that anyone on a .500 team could be satisfied to relax. Though Tabaracci took the biggest hit, no one escaped Murray's post-game indictment. "We could have had two terrific chances for a 2-0 lead in the first period, and our guys didn't get it down," he said. "It would have completely changed this game." Keith Jones hit the post with 17:26 to play, and Dave Poulin had a breakaway with 1:34 left in the first, but couldn't get it past New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur, who made 30 saves. One positive for Washington is that it did make the most of its five-on-three advantages, scoring twice. Al Iafrate scored the first one to make it 3-1 with 10:41 gone in the second period, and Michal Pivonka scored the second with 10:13 gone in the third. Those goals were two of just a few things the 15,812 fans had to cheer, though the Washington defense did settle down after Tabaracci was benched and didn't give up a shot on goalie Don Beaupre, who came in with 6:59 left in the middle period, until there was 5:10 left in the game. New Jersey's Scott Stevens scored for the Devils in the first period on a slap shot from the blue line, and he finished the scoring with the Devils' fifth goal, with 1:09 left in the game. In between, John MacLean, Stephane Richer and Bill Guerin all scored on Tabaracci. NOTES: Neither Kevin Hatcher nor Todd Krygier played. . . . Eighty Capitals season-ticket holders will make the road trip to Quebec and Montreal this weekend. . . . Iafrate will play in his 700th NHL game tonight in Quebec. . . . D Jason Woolley, who has been out with a torn abdominal muscle, will be examined Monday. CAPITALS TONIGHT Opponent: Quebec Nordiques Site: Le Colisee, Quebec City Time: 7:30 Radio: WMAL (630 AM) TV: None Outlook: Quebec has been struggling since the last time it played the Capitals on its home ice. Quebec won that game, 5-3, but the Capitals seemed to regroup after the loss. Quebec is 17-22-5, but should be well-rested. Washington, on the other hand, traveled to the Canadian city after last night's 5-2 loss at home to New Jersey. The Caps are without D Jason Woolley (torn abdominal muscle); D Kevin Hatcher (broken hand) and LW Todd Krygier (shoulder separation) are day-to-day. Quebec reports D Alexei Gusarov (flu), LW Andrei Kovalenko (rib) and D ** Craig Wolanin (groin) are day-to-day; RW Chris Simon (back) and RW Owen Nolan (shoulder surgery) are out.