DENVER — The Washington Capitals will be without three of their top players in Friday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. Center Evgeny Kuznetsov, right wing T.J. Oshie and goaltender Braden Holtby have been ruled out with undisclosed upper-body injuries and are considered day-to-day.
“We’ve been very fortunate and our staff does a great job taking care of our guys, and sometimes it’s just a little bit of bad luck,” Reirden said. “That’s how it is right now, and it’s something we’ve got to deal with and some adversity. I look forward to seeing some guys in some different spots than they’re normally in against a real tough opponent in this building. It’ll be a good challenge.”
Holtby was hurt in an informal on-ice session Wednesday morning, before he was scheduled to start in Winnipeg. He was a late scratch, and the Capitals instead turned to Pheonix Copley for the second time in as many nights. Copley has just eight games of NHL experience, and he’s 3-2-1 this season. Opposite him in net Friday night will be Philipp Grubauer, whom the Capitals traded to Colorado in June after he appeared in 35 games last season.
Washington recalled top prospect Ilya Samsonov to be Copley’s backup Friday; after some travel delays Thursday night, Samsonov didn’t arrive in Denver until midway through the Capitals' morning skate Friday. The 21-year-old was the organization’s first-round pick in 2015; to clear roster and salary cap room to add him, Washington reassigned defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler to Hershey of the American Hockey League.
Kuznetsov and Oshie suffered apparent concussions in Wednesday’s loss to the Jets. Kuznetsov was elbowed by Winnipeg forward Brandon Tanev in the first period, and he missed the rest of the game. Oshie was slammed to the ice by defenseman Josh Morrissey in the final minute, and after his head appeared to hit the ice, he got up slowly and appeared woozy. Morrissey was fined for unsportsmanlike conduct by the NHL Department of Player Safety on Thursday; although Tanev was penalized for an illegal check to the head during the game, he did not receive supplemental discipline.
Kuznetsov is Washington’s leading scorer with 21 points (six goals and 15 assists), and Oshie’s nine goals are second to Alex Ovechkin’s 12.
Center Lars Eller will replace Kuznetsov on the top line between Ovechkin and Tom Wilson, while Andre Burakovsky will take Oshie’s spot at second-line right wing beside center Nicklas Backstrom. Eller and Wilson will take Kuznetsov’s and Oshie’s spots on the top power play.
The Capitals brought two extra forwards with them on this trip, and they’ll need both against the Avalanche; Travis Boyd and Dmitrij Jaskin will suit up after being healthy scratches Wednesday. Defenseman Michal Kempny was out against the Jets because of an illness, but he’s slated to play Friday.
“This is a situation where lots of different people are going to get opportunities,” Reirden said.
Caps lines this morning:— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) November 16, 2018
Copley to start
More on the Capitals: