ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — All-Star goaltender Braden Holtby is expected to start for the Washington Capitals on Friday night against the New York Islanders after missing two games with an eye injury.
Holtby said his left eye is back to normal after it initially didn’t progress as quickly as hoped.
“It’s not a thing that’s going to get worse,” Holtby said after the Capitals’ morning skate. “It’s just a matter of when it calms down. So now it’s good.”
The eye injury lingered for Holtby after he took a high stick to the face through his mask from Columbus forward Cam Atkinson on Saturday . Holtby left that game early and wasn’t able to play Monday against St. Louis or Tuesday against Nashville.
“It was one of those things where you don’t really know what it’s going to be like in a game,” Holtby said. “There was a bit of doubt what was going to be like. It wasn’t close enough to 100 percent where it felt comfortable it was for the betterment of the team.”
Backup Pheonix Copley allowed 11 goals on 66 shots in regulation losses to the Blues and Predators. The Capitals have lost three in a row.
Coach Todd Reirden said he was confident about Holtby’s status and the team wouldn’t call up another goalie for the game against the Islanders. Copley is expected to back up Holtby, the 2016 Vezina Trophy winner who won all 16 games for Washington in the playoffs last year on the way to the Stanley Cup.
“It’s been a little bit of touch and go,” Reirden said. “Just definitely happy. Any time you can get your No. 1 goalie in there, that’s great for us.”