ARLINGTON, Va. — Braden Holtby will start for the Washington Capitals against the New York Islanders at Capital One Arena on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN1, SNE, NBCSWA, MSG+, NHL.TV).
Washington’s No. 1 goalie hasn’t played since he was poked in the eye by the stick of Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson during the second period of a 2-1 overtime loss Saturday.
“I feel good. It’s back to normal,” he said after the morning skate. “It’s been good today. It’s not a thing that’s going to get worse. It’s just a matter of when it calms down. So now it’s good.”
Holtby practiced Sunday and was expected to start at the Nashville Predators on Tuesday after dressing as Pheonix Copley‘s backup for Washington’s 4-1 home loss to the St. Louis Blues on Monday. The 29-year-old was held out as a precaution and again backed up Copley in a 7-2 loss.
Having his starter available was a relief for coach Todd Reirden. The Capitals (27-14-5) enter Friday tied in points with the Columbus Blue Jackets for first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders (27-15-4) are one point back and have won three in a row. Washington is 0-2-1 in its past three games.
“It’s been a little bit of touch and go,” he said. “Just definitely happy. Any time you can get your No. 1 goalie in there, that’s great for us. Real happy to have him in there tonight for us.”
Reirden also said there are no plans to call up a goalie from Hersey, Washington’s American Hockey League affiliate.
“Don’t plan to recall anybody else,” he said. “We’re planning on him playing tonight.”
Holtby and the Capitals are confident that the eye will heal completely and will not be a long-term issue.
“Once the initial tests were done and they said there was no damage that’s going to be long-term, it was just a matter of healing, getting that vision back,” Holtby said. “It’s good now.”