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Braden Holtby OK after collision during Capitals practice

Goaltender hit by teammate Marcus Johansson during morning skate, will start Game 4 against Maple Leafs

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / Staff Writer

TORONTO -- The Washington Capitals had a scare for about 20 seconds during their morning skate at Air Canada Centre on Wednesday when goaltender Braden Holtby remained down on the ice after a collision with teammate Marcus Johansson.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when Holtby got up, took a moment to collect himself and finished the skate.

He will be in net for the Capitals for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN, CSN-DC). Washington trails the best-of-7 series 2-1.

"I'm fine," Holtby said. "It was just a practice play. It happens."

Johansson was skating in on the right side on a 2-on-1 drill with T.J. Oshie on his left, and when he cut to the net he bumped into Holtby and fell over the top of him, knocking him to the ice.

"He came out a little further than I thought and I tried to get out of the way from [Oshie's] shot," Johansson said. "It happens."

The Capitals had been vocal and upbeat during their morning skate, but the rink went silent while Holtby was face down on the ice. With the Capitals trailing the series, they can't afford to lose Holtby, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner and a likely Vezina finalist this season after leading the NHL with nine shutouts, tying for the League lead with 42 wins, ranking second with a 2.07 goals-against average and third with a .925 save percentage.

"It's like anybody when their goaltender gets bumped over," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "Your heart stops for a second."

He said he was relieved when Holtby got up.

"I think they just laughed it off, but I didn't even see it," Trotz said. "I was down at the other end and then all of a sudden it got quiet and I was like, 'OK.' I had to sort of catch myself for a second, went over to see if he needed a second or two. He said, 'I'm fine,' and he was just shaking it off and resumed."

Holtby downplayed the incident. "You get hit sometimes," he said. "It's hockey."

Johansson said, "You never want to see anyone get hurt out there. That was unfortunate, but it happens. But he's all right."

The Capitals weren't as fortunate last season when Holtby injured his left knee in a collision with a teammate during a practice at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia the day before Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Philadelphia Flyers. Holtby was unable to finish that practice that day.

He did not miss any games and the Capitals won the series in six games. But he later acknowledged his knee impacted his play during the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Capitals were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games in the Eastern Conference Second Round.

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