Just one night after leaving a game with an apparent eye injury on a high-stick through the mask, Braden Holtby was back on the ice for practice on Sunday.
"It's progressing the right way, obviously,” Holtby said. “Like anything, a scratch to your eye takes a bit to heal."
Holtby participated fully in the practice and did not appear limited at all. Video coach Brett Leonhardt dressed as a third goalie, but was not needed and left about halfway in.
Holtby was forced to leave Saturday’s game when the stick of Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson got through the bars of Holtby’s mask and caught him in the eye. The Capitals eventually fell 2-1 in overtime.
"I didn't have the sight to keep going,” Holtby said. “I just wouldn't have been a benefit to the team. It was one of those things. Eyes heal quickly, so just 24 hours and I'll be back to normal."
Head coach Todd Reirden said Holtby would be re-evaluated after practice, but that the team did not plan on recalling anyone.
“It was a weird situation for us at the time we needed to make sure we handled properly and went through all the proper steps to make sure there was not further issues and was really happy to see him be able to go out and partake in practice,” Reirden said.
Reirden also mentioned that Holtby had work done on his eye following the game. He would not commit as to whether Holtby would start Monday’s game, but as the Caps have a back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday, Reirden could choose to give Holtby the extra day off and start him on Tuesday.
Even if Washington needs to put Holtby on the shelf for a short period, the team is in good shape behind him. Backup Pheonix Copley came on in relief of Holtby Saturday and played well. He also played a stretch of games earlier in the season after Holtby was out with an upper-body injury. Copley has been one of the pleasant surprises of the season with a 10-2-3 record, 2.56 GAA and .916 save percentage. If the Caps need to turn to him, they will have the confidence to do so — for a short period.
For now, however, it appears all the Caps will need from Copley will be to play one of the two upcoming back-t-back games since Holtby certainly sounds like he’s ready to go.
"Obviously anything with your eyes is a little scary,” Holtby said. “It's fortunate that it wasn't anything too serious. You just move on."
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