Less than two days after he hobbled out of Verizon Center on crutches with an apparent left knee injury, Capitals forward Brooks Laich is on the ice in full pads taking part in Tuesday’s morning skate.


Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner (27) helps injured teammate Brooks Laich (21) off the ice during the second period Sunday. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

The 28-year-old zipped around the ice Tuesday morning with no apparent limitation as he tested out his knee, which is a good sign for the Capitals.

Washington, already without Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) and Mike Green (sports hernia), hosts the Florida Panthers in a battle for first place in the Southeast Division Tuesday at Verizon Center.

There is now some optimism and reason to believe that the Capitals may have Laich in the mix for the important contest, which is no small development. He averages 2 minutes and 35 seconds on the penalty kill and 2:24 on the power play and draws some of the toughest matchups..

Laich, who has appeared in 397 of Washington’s last 401 games, dating back to Feb. 21, 2007, was crunched into the end boards by Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg with eight minutes remaining in the second period of Washington’s 4-1 loss to Boston Sunday. He didn’t return to the contest and was on crutches afterward, wearing an immobilizer brace on his knee.

— In other news, Mike Green, who underwent sports hernia surgery on Jan. 17, skated this morning, according to a team spokesman.