Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby practiced fully Sunday morning, apparently no worse for wear after Columbus forward Cam Atkinson inadvertently wedged his stick through a hole in Holtby’s mask, injuring his left eye, in the second period of Saturday night’s loss.
Holtby didn’t return to the game, and it’s unclear whether he’ll start against the St. Louis Blues on Monday, the first game of a back-to-back set, but Coach Todd Reirden said the team doesn’t intend to recall another netminder, indicating Holtby is at least healthy enough to dress. Washington could choose to start Pheonix Copley against the Blues and then have Holtby in net at the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.
“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. . . . I didn’t have the sight to keep going. 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.”
Holtby, who has had LASIK surgery in the past, intimated that his vision isn’t quite 100 percent yet, but “it’s progressing the right way, obviously," he said. "Like anything, a scratch to your eye takes a bit to heal.”
“It’s something you’ve got to be extremely careful with and cautious," Reirden said. "He’s had some other work done on his eyes in the past, so it was a serious situation for us at the time that we needed to make sure we handled properly and went through all the proper steps to make sure there was no further issues. . . . We’re going to see how it is tomorrow still. Just with the sweat and all that, it’s going to get reevaluated right now, so that was a step in the process.”
Third-line center Lars Eller missed practice Sunday for what the team said was a maintenance day for an undisclosed upper-body injury. Reirden said Eller is day-to-day and “getting ready for a back-to-back here.”
Defenseman Christian Djoos, who has missed the past 14 games after left thigh surgery last month, skated for the first time before Sunday’s practice, but General Manager Brian MacLellan previously indicated that it’ll be another two weeks before the Capitals have some clarity on his timeline to return to the lineup.
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