The Washington Times - March 19, 2013, 11:34AM

PITTSBURGH | Brooks Laich will make his season debut for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night at the Pittsburgh Penguins after missing the first 28 games with a groin injury.

“I’m just licking my chops here to get in,” Laich said.

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Laich will be eased in on the fourth line but it’s possible he could see penalty-killing and power-play minutes as well. The 29-year-old took line rushes during the morning skate at Consol Energy Center with Jay Beagle and Matt Hendricks.

“More PK, probably than PP,” coach Adam Oates said. “But I got to get him into the game slow and see how he feels and see how he’s responding. It’s been a long time.”

Laich has been on the nonroster list all season after suffering the groin injury while playing in Switzerland during the NHL lockout. Defenseman Tom Poti was placed on injured reserve with a back injury retroactive to Sunday to make room on the roster.

It was Brooks Laich day in the Caps locker room. Just not to him.

“I’m not focused on myself; I’m focused on the hockey game,” Laich said. “It was a while ago but I’ve played 20 games already this season so it’s not like I came off the lockout where I haven’t played at all. I’ve been in season mode since September. I’m not too worried about myself; I’m focusing on the hockey game. Big challenge for us playing a very good team we need to play a very good game.”

Laich said Sunday morning that he wanted to play that night against the Buffalo Sabres. His first game since November had to wait until Tuesday.

“Obviously happy to have him back,” Oates said. “I’m sure he’s more anxious than I am. But we’re going to ease him into the game slow.

Dmitry Orlov was on the ice and is expected to play against the Penguins. The young defenseman missed three months because of a concussion while with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. He had three assists in four games back before getting recalled by the Caps on Monday.

Joey Crabb will be the healthy scratch up front to make space in the lineup. Aaron Volpatti and Wojtek Wolski remain healthy scratches.