Robert Picard still isn't sure exactly what hit him Sunday, and there's a buzzing in his head that makes it difficult to sleep, but he will be back on defense for the Washington Capitals tonight when the Colorado Rockies visit Capital Centre at 7:30.

Picard suffered a broken nose and was knocked unconcious during a fight in which Philadelphia's Gary Dornhoefer intervened to halt Picard's fistic punishment of Rick Lapointe.

"I thought the referee landed on me and I hit my head on the ice," Picard said yesterday. "I was trying to protect my face and my arms got stuck, and I can't remember anything after I hit the ice. I woke up in the dressing room.

"The headaches were the worst part. I couldn't sleep at all last night. I'll probably break my nose 25 times before I'm through playing, but I hope it doesn't happen too often."

Picard and Coach Tom McVie checked the films of the incident yesterday and affirmed that referee Dave Newell had nothing to do with it. Dornhoefer was pretty much absolved of deliberate intent to injure, too.

"Dornhoefer had his hands on Pic, but he never threw a punch," McVie said. "It was one or three of three things. First, on his way down Pic hit his face on somebody's knee, probably Dave Forbes'. Second Lapointe probably got him afterward, and third, he does hit his face on the ice."

Trainer Gump Embro, who quickly pried open Picard's mouth and pulled the youngster's tongue free, said, "He was gagging and his tongue was rolling around.I've seen worse, but you never know when the face is on the ice like that. The nose is the quickest path to the brain."

Ace Bailey, sitting in the stands, reacted like most of the spectators, with fear of serious injury.

"The way the players were all around him, I was afraid he'd gotten a skate blade in the eye," Bailey said.

Team President Peter O'Malley was not pleased with the brawling that led to a Capital Centre record of 124 minutes in penalties.

"I left the building after the Montreal-Washington game considerably more impressed with the sport and caliber of play after last night's game," O'Malley said. "We had comparable crowds and I think the fans left after the Montreal game thinking they had been highly entertained and had seen good performances by both teams. I think last night they probably had a different feeling."

Defenseman Yvon Labre, the Capitals' captain, is returning from Hershey today and General Manager Max McNab said there was a "pretty good chance" Labre would be in the lineup tonight, for the first time since Oct. 28. Labre, who underwent knee surgery Nov. 8, played his final game for Hershey last night in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Bailey, wearing a brace on his right knee, skated yesterday and said he felt fine and was ready to play. Forbes, who banged a shoulder Sunday, also received clearance to play tonight.

Winger Bob Sircis said his injured left hand "is not good". Sirois has difficulty shooting and accepting passes. The injury apparently centers around ligaments in the area where he suffered a broken bone last year.

Except for Bailey, Sirois and Mark Lofthouse, there was no practice yesterday.