Bryan Murray called it a "nasty cut that's still swollen a bit," but, despite the gash above his left eye that required 12 stitches to close, Capitals captain Rod Langway skated with the rest of the team yesterday.

Langway was injured by Lanny McDonald's stick during the third period of Tuesday night's 5-3 Washington victory over Calgary. Langway did not return to the ice for the final 10 minutes of the game.

McDonald, concerned about the injury, spoke briefly with Murray and Langway after the game. "He just told me to be sure Rod knew it wasn't intentional," Murray said. Langway reminded McDonald the situation could easily have been reversed.

"It really is a nasty-looking cut, but Rod is really into it (the season) and that's part of the game," Murray said after yesterday's practice.

"We're playing pretty well, with more poise and discipline," Murray said yesterday. "Maybe we didn't play as well throughout the whole game (against the Flames). For 30 minutes, I thought we did very well, and then they seemed to come on a bit in the third period . . . "

Murray said he is unsure how much more improvement will be seen "as far as team play, but I do know we'll see it individually, and that will help the team, of course.

"After the start we had, well, you start to wonder. But it's nice to get into the middle of the pack, instead of looking down at ourselves at the bottom of the standings."