BUFFALO -- Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates said forward Brooks Laich will be a game-time decision when they face the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).
Laich is dealing with a groin injury that has kept him out of action for parts of this season, but he did participate in the morning skate.
"I'm sure he's going through so many bumps and bruises that I'm sure he's hypersensitive to what's going on down there, which is natural for what he's gone through," Oates said. "You look at every single game, you get hit so many times you don't realize. Faceoffs you get poked and prodded that maybe it was just something like that that he thinks, 'Oh no, here we go again.' And he skated today and he felt pretty good.
"I'm sure in his own mind he wants to make sure he doesn't set it back. He said to me, 'What if I play [Tuesday] and I can't play Thursday?' I'm like, 'Well, you can't play [Tuesday].' But I don't know how you think like that. He's obviously over-thinking it and hopefully he felt good out there and he can conquer it."
Laich has missed 14 games this season because of the groin injury. If Laich can't play Ryan Stoa, who was recalled from the American Hockey League on Tuesday, will start in his place. Braden Holtby was the first goalie off the ice at morning skate and will start.
The Capitals are 0-0-2 against the Sabres this season and were held to two goals combined in those games because of the play of goalie Ryan Miller. They'll face Jhonas Enroth on Tuesday, however, as Miller took a 3-0 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday.
"We have to play the same, I think," Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. "We played a couple good games against them. The only thing we have to do is get more traffic against the goalies and try to score two or three goals right away and don't give them any chances."
The Sabres will have a couple of other lineup changes to go along with Enroth starting in goal. Defenseman Alexander Sulzer will replace Jamie McBain and forward John Scott will take Linus Omark's spot on the fourth line.
"Maybe we've got [Omark] in the wrong position," Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. "We put the kid on the fourth line. He's a skill guy but right now some guys are playing a little bit better than him. We're in a position now where we've got to battle for playing time."
Here's how the lineups may look for the Capitals and Sabres:
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin
Martin Erat - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson
Eric Fehr - Casey Wellman - Joel Ward
Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Mike Green - Dmitry Orlov
John Erskine - Connor Carrick
Scratched: Ryan Stoa, Aaron Volpatti
Injured: Jack Hillen (broken leg), Mikhail Grabovski (knee)
Matt Moulson - Tyler Ennis - Zemgus Girgensons
Steve Ott - Cody Hodgson - Ville Leino
Marcus Foligno - Philip Varone - Brian Flynn
John Scott - Zenon Konopka - Matt Ellis
Tyler Myers - Henrik Tallinder
Christian Ehrhoff - Chad Ruhwedel
Mike Weber - Alexander Sulzer
Scratched: Linus Omark, Jamie McBain
Injured: Cody McCormick (upper body), Matt D'Agostini (upper body), Drew Stafford (upper body)