Early in the second period of their 2-1 shootout win over the New York Islanders Thursday night the Capitals received a scare when left wing Brooks Laich took a puck between the legs and dropped to his knees.
The versatile winger literally crawled off the ice and retreated to the dressing room.
“That’s not fun for anybody,” teammate Troy Brouwer said.
Laich returned to the game and took seven more shifts in the second period but was hurt again midway through the third period and did not play the final 10 minutes of the game.
“That's coach's decision,” Laich said. “Some things are going to stay in-house. The game was pretty fast. I really don't have a lot to say.”
Oates said he was concerned Laich might hurt himself further by returning to action and after a brief consulation with athletic trainer Greg Smith, he decided to sit him out the second half of the third period and ovetime.
“From coming back when he did he’s kind of aching all over,” Oates said of Laich, who has played in nine straight games since returning from a groin strain on March 19.
“He’s really crammed a lot of hockey into a short span of time. He looked sore all over. He got hit and Smitty kind of looked at me and said, ‘You might want to shut him down right now because we’ve got two games coming up.’ Nothing major, just making sure he’s OK for the weekend.”
The Caps will be given the day off on Friday, then hit the road for a game against the Florida Panthers on Saturday night and another Sunday night at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Oates said he wants Laich available for both games.
“I noticed he was hurting a little bit, huffing and puffing a little bit.”
Brouwer said Laich was missed in the third period, especially when the Caps were forced to kill off a delay of game penalty to Mike Green.
“We need him for draws,” Brouwer said. ‘Hopefully, it’s nothing serious.”