- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 7, 2013

Brooks Laich will see a groin specialist Tuesday as the Washington Capitals hope to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong with the injured forward.

Laich, who missed the first 28 games of the season with a groin injury, missed two contests over the weekend after leaving Thursday’s win over the New York Islanders with what the team called a lower-body injury. He is set to see St. Louis-based Dr. L. Michael Brunt, a renowned specialist who did sports hernia surgeries on defenseman Mike Green and right wing Joel Ward.

That does not appear to be good news for Laich.

“They can’t quite get a handle on what it is,” coach Adam Oates said. “He just doesn’t feel good. It’s a little sore everywhere, but not necessarily where he was in the groin, and that’s why he’s seeing the specialist.”

Laich took a hit Thursday and left the game. Asked if he avoided any serious damage, the 29-year-old forward responded: “I don’t have a lot to say.”

Oates said Laich did not quite aggravate the same groin injury he suffered while playing in Switzerland during the NHL lockout but acknowledged this problem is affecting the groin.

“Brooksie, you know what, he’s still hurting,” Oates said. “[We’re trying] to get an evaluation of where he is, but I think he’s going to be out for a few days.”

Erat sidelined

Left wing Martin Erat missed Washington’s game Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning with an apparent left leg injury after taking a hit Saturday from Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson.

“Marty felt way better than he anticipated, so I don’t think it’s going to be too long,” Oates said.

Erat was playing just his second game for the Caps since being traded from the Nashville Predators at the deadline. The 31-year-old could not put pressure on his left leg while being helped off the ice in the first period.

Oates said Erat, whose head slammed into the boards, did not suffer a concussion. But missing Erat at all is a bad break for the Caps.

“That’s tough,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “It’s very frustrating to see that happen to him. I’m sure he feels the same way. Hopefully it’s not something that’s going to keep him out too long.”

Neuvirth starts

Michal Neuvirth started in goal Sunday against the Lightning, his first appearance since a March 16 loss at the Boston Bruins. That broke Braden Holtby’s streak of 11 straight starts.

“You’re going to need both your goalies,” Oates said. “It’s just a fact. We need him to play.”

Neuvirth made just his third start in the Caps’ past 26 games.

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