Braden Holtby will miss Wednesday’s game in Winnipeg due to an upper-body injury which will give Pheonix Copley his second start in as many nights. The team will also dress an emergency backup for the game. Isabelle Khurshudyan was the first to report the news.
In addition, Michal Kempny will miss Wednesday’s game as well due to an illness. He is considered day-to-day. Jonas Siegenthaler will get into the lineup for his second NHL game.
Pheonix Copley started Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Wild. He turned aside 26 of the 28 shots he faced for a .929 save percentage in the win.
It is unclear when the injury to Holtby occurred. Copley was a surprise start in Tuesday’s game, but if the team suspected Holtby could miss Wednesday, recalls from Hershey could have been made prior to now which would have prevented the need for an emergency backup.
The backup for the Capitals will be Gavin McHale, the goaltending coach for the women’s team at the University of Manitoba. McHale, 31, is in his second season at UM and is listed by the website Elite Prospects as 6-feet 7-inches. The last time he played competitively was in 2014-15 with the Warren Mecs of the South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League. This is not the first time he has been called upon in the NHL as he was an emergency NHL backup in the past for the Colorado Avalanche in February.
Depending on the length of Holtby’s issue, a call-up for either Ilya Samsonov or Vitek Vanecek could be a possibility. Vanecek has been out with an upper-body injury meaning Samsonov would be the most likely candidate should the Caps need him.
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The Buffalo Sabres do not rank high among the Capitals’ most hated rivals, but when you look back at the history of these two teams, Washington has struggled against the Sabres more than you may think.
In the Caps’ first two seasons they faced Buffalo 10 times. Washington lost nine of those games and tied one. In fact, the Caps managed only two wins total in their first 32 meetings.
Even when Washington advanced past their initial struggles as a franchise, success against Buffalo has been hard to come by. In their 43 seasons as a team, the Caps have only managed to sweep the season series with the Sabres three times in 1988-89, 2012-13, 2016-17.
On Saturday, however, the Caps can make it four.
Buffalo visited Washington twice in December with the Caps winning each game. On Saturday, Washington heads to Buffalo for their final meeting of the season. (1 p.m., NBC Sports Washington).
Carl Hagelin will make his Capitals debut Saturday. He suited up for the first time with his new team on Friday after getting trade by the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. He practice on the fourth line with Nic Dowd at center and Chandler Stephenson on the wing.
The newly acquired Nick Jensen will not be available for the game.
End of the road
Saturday’s game will be the sixth and final game of a season-long six-game road trip. Washington has already earned three wins guaranteeing them at least a .500 finish. A win Saturday will give them four out of six and turn a respectable road trip into a very good one.
Watching the standings
With two points, Washington can pull even with the New York Islanders. The Caps have 75 points while the Islanders sit in first place with 77. New York has a game in hand on Washington and they play later Saturday night, so a tie in the standings on Saturday afternoon could prove to be short-lived.
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Madison Bowey was traded to the Motor City earlier today as well as a second round draft pick for defenseman Nick Jensen and a fifth round draft pick. Washington promptly re-signed their new addition to a four-year, $10 million dollar contract.
After hearing the news about their teammate's departure, memebers of the Caps' took to social media to give their best wishes.
Bowey, a Stanley Cup champion, was a vital member of the 2018 Capitals' squad in their pursuit of the Cup.
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