Brooks Laich left the Capitals’ 2-1 shootout win over the New York Islanders on Thursday with an undisclosed injury. Coach Adam Oates said Washington’s utility forward was “aching all over” but added that the injury was “nothing major”.
Laich, 29, didn’t take a shift in the final 15 minutes 26 seconds of the game, including overtime. Oates said the injury was unrelated to when Laich took a puck to the groin in the second period.
He missed the first 28 games of the season with a groin injury suffered in November while playing in Switzerland during the NHL lockout. Laich made his return to the Capitals lineup March 19 at Pittsburgh and has played in every game since.
“Coming back, what he did, he’s kind of aching all over. He’s really crammed a lot of hockey into a short span of time, and he looked a little sore all over,” Oates said. “He got hit and [trainer Greg Smith] kind of looked at me and said, ‘You know, you might want to shut him down right now because we’ve got two games coming up,’ because he was fighting it a little bit. Nothing major. You know, just make sure he’s OK for the weekend.”
Oates said he noticed Laich laboring even before Smith brought it to his attention.
“I noticed he was hurtin’ a little bit,” Oates said. “He was huffing and puffing and he’s probably a little sore all over.”
The Capitals are off Friday but play back-to-back games this weekend, visiting Florida Saturday and then hosting Tampa Bay at Verizon Center Sunday.
Laich was in the Capitals’ dressing room following the win but didn’t disclose anything about his health or why he didn’t play past the 10:34 mark of the third period.
“I don’t have a lot to say,” said Laich, who finished with 13:59 of ice time. “That’s coach’s decision. Some things are going to stay in house. The game was pretty fast. I really don’t have a lot to say.”
Early in the second period, Laich took a puck to the groin but Oates said that had nothing to do with what prompted him to sit the utility forward late in the game.
“The first time was a little shot in the pills. That’s not fun for anybody,” said Troy Brouwer, acknowledging how not having Laich late in the close game against the Islanders was a factor.
“Especially with that PK late in the third there where we need him for draws, we need him for that big PK role,” Brouwer added. “But the guys did a good job tending without him. Hopefully it’s nothing serious.”