The Washington Times - March 31, 2011, 11:01PM

When healthy, the Capitals have plenty of depth on defense – nine healthy guys with significant NHL experience. But for a while Thursday night, they were down to five.

John Erskine left the Caps’ 4-3 overtime win against the Blue Jackets early in the second period, playing just 5:53, though coach Bruce Boudreau downplayed any problems afterward.


“He’s day to day,” Boudreau said. “He’s fine; it was precautionary with him.”

Boudreau was asked if Erskine injured his hand in a first-period fight with Jared Boll and said no. But the defenseman’s absence was an issue in Washington’s struggles late.

“For two periods [the fact that] we only had five D didn’t help,” Boudreau said.

Tyler Sloan, already pressed into action due to a leg injury to Dennis Wideman, was forced into skating every third shift after sitting out for a week and a half. By the end of the night, John Carlson had 25:48 of ice time and Karl Alzner 24:49.

Scott Hannan (game-high 28:19) and Jeff Schultz (26:35) carried the bulk of the minutes as the Caps adjusted.

“It’s one of those things you can’t control. Things are gonna happen throughout the game and people are gonna get injured and people are gonna be healthy,” Carlson said. “Hopefully that happens really soon.”

Wideman could be out indefinitely with leg hematoma, though the team is still listing him as week-to-week with a “lower-body injury.” If Erskine misses any time, Brian Fahey could get the call from Hershey to fill in, unless the Caps elect to dress Brooks Laich as a defenseman.