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Capitals notes: Brooks Laich sees specialist, status uncertain

It doesn't sound like Brooks Laich will be returning to the Washington Capitals' lineup anytime soon. The injured forward saw renowned groin specialist Dr. Michael Brunt on Tuesday, and he's set to see another doctor, coach Adam Oates said.

A groin injury kept Laich out for the first 28 games of the season with a groin injury, and he also has missed the past three. Laich suffered a lower-body injury Thursday that Oates said negatively impacts his groin.

Brunt is the same doctor who performed sports hernia surgery on defenseman Mike Green and right wing Joel Ward. Asked if surgery was being considered for Laich, Oates declined comment because he hadn't spoken with Laich, general manager George McPhee and the training staff.

"I want to make sure I give you guys a correct answer," Oates said.

The team has not revealed any kind of timeline on Laich. The Caps are 6-2-1 in the nine games he has played this season.

Erat skates again

Left wing Martin Erat skated for the second straight day, though his status remains uncertain after he suffered an apparent left leg injury this past weekend.

"It feels better every day," Erat said. "I don't know what's the timetable, but [I'm] trying to skate with it and see how it goes next couple days."

Erat said he doesn't see himself being ready to go for Thursday's game against the Carolina Hurricanes, and even Saturday vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning could be a stretch.

"I still think he looks a little ways away, but it's an injury that maybe heals quick so hopefully not too long," Oates said.

Erat, 31, was playing just his second game with the Caps since a trade from the Nashville Predators when he was injured on a hit from Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson. He said he thought the injury would be worse than it turned out to be, but he's not going to rush back.

"Obviously, I want to be playing as much as I can, but first I have to get healthy," Erat said. "When I get healthy, I want to help this team."

In other injury news, Ward has not skated since taking a slap shot to the left leg Sunday. He missed Tuesday's game at the Montreal Canadiens.

"He's hurting pretty good," Oates said. "We're not quite sure how long it's going to be."

Defenseman Tom Poti, who has been battling a back injury, said he's feeling better and hopes to be able to play soon.

Goalie uncertain

While Michal Neuvirth has won back-to-back games in goal, Braden Holtby started the previous 11 and looked to be the man in net for the Caps. Oates did not reveal his starter for Thursday's game against the Hurricanes, but Holtby isn't a player who enjoys too much time off.

"No, I'd rather play," Holtby said. "It's pretty simple. I don't like sitting out but you take it as it is. As long as we're winning, it doesn't matter."

Neuvirth got back-to-back starts, Oates said, because he wanted the 25-year-old goaltender to feel like a part of the team.

"I always felt like I'm part of the team," Neuvirth said. "I've been here for a while, and I know the guys pretty well. So I never feel that way."

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