The Washington Capitals lost to the Hartford Whalers, 3-1, tonight for what Coach Bryan Murray called "lack of offensive creativity."

"We were much more disciplined than the other night (against New Jersey), but the real major problem is no coordination offensively," Murray said.

Washington (1-2) had shut out the Whalers, 3-0, Saturday in Hartford, but tonight the Capitals never got on track, getting only Rod Langway's goal in the first period.

Including tonight, the Capitals have scored on four of 27 power plays, but have not scored while in a five-on-five situation.

"Even though it is early, that concerns me," Murray said. "Not a single goal in a five on five. We're looking for a great deal of improvement there."

The Capitals need to improve overall their on-ice organization. Most of the second period, in which Washington held a 1-0 lead until the final second, and much of the third found the Capitals merely dumping the puck and scrambling to catch it.

Milan Novy, looking shaky, played briefly on both power and penalty-killing units. "He had no legs last night," said Murray, "and I thought tonight he just overshot at least a few times. Maybe training camp is a little much for him."

One shot that was too much for Novy came during the second period when he tried to pass the puck from center ice to a teammate. His unsteady swing sent the puck high into the stands.

A bright spot for Washington was the play of goalie Robbie Moore, who stopped all of Hartford's attempts until he was replaced in the middle of the second period by Pat Riggin. He halted Pierre Larouche's breakaway during the first period by booting the shot away and out of play.

Hartford's score at the end of the second period came on a power play, Ron Francis sliding the puck into the net with Wayne Prestage in the penalty box.

Blaine Stoughton scored at 12:29 of the third period to put the Whalers ahead. Riggin left his net with 1 1/2 minutes remaining. Even with six skaters, Washington could not tie and Larouche scored into an empty net with a minute to play.

Goalie Dave Parro, injured when a shot his left shoulder in practice late last week, will resume workouts with the team Monday . . . Murray posted the list of who's a Capital and who is not after tonight's game. No real surprises among the remaining, but all four goalies (Parro, Riggin, Moore and Al Jensen) are listed as Capitals as is first-round draft pick Scott Stevens.