Caps (19-17-2, 40 points) vs. Tampa Bay (16-19-2, 34 points)
Game » 39
When » Sunday, April 7
Where » Verizon Center
TV » Comcast SportsNet HD
Radio » WJFK-FM 106.7; WFED-AM 1500
The Capitals’ spent the last two weeks rebuilding their depth at left wing as Brooks Laich returned from a groin injury and the team traded for veteran winger Martin Erat. That’s temporarily gone within a span of two games. Laich suffered a lower-body injury in Thursday’s win over the Islanders. Erat was driven into the boards by Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who was ejected for boarding.
Laich will see noted groin specialist Michael Brunt in the District on Tuesday. He is the doctor who previously advised Caps players Tom Poti, Mike Green and Joel Ward – and former players Ben Clymer and Chris Clark – when each dealt with similar issues. That’s not a good sign for a player who missed the first 28 games of the season with a groin injury originally sustained while playing in Switzerland in November during the NHL lockout.
“They can’t quite get a handle on what it is,” Washington coach Adam Oates said. “[Laich] just doesn’t feel good. He’s a little sore everywhere, but not necessarily where he was in the groin so that’s why he’s seeing the specialist that he’s been seeing on Tuesday.”
Meanwhile, the news on Erat is a little better. He had to be helped off the ice after the Gudbranson hit – though the play was a five-minute major penalty there will be no supplemental discipline from the NHL. Erat was just acquired in a trade with the Nashville Predators on Wednesday and was playing in just his second game with the Caps.
“Marty felt way better than he anticipated, so I don’t think it’s going to be too long,” Oates said.
With Laich and Erat out, forward Eric Fehr returns to left wing on the second line. Marcus Johansson remains on the first line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
Michael Neuvirth makes just his third appearance in goal over the last 27 games as the Caps play a second game in as many nights. They beat the Panthers 4-3 on the road Saturday. Braden Holtby gets a needed rest. Here are the lines and defense pairings for tonight’s game:
Follow me on Twitter @bmcnally14