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Morning-skate injury sidelines Neuvirth -- sort of

by Dan Rosen
NEWARK, N.J. -- Washington rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth went from probable starter to emergency backup to a scratch in a matter of hours Monday, and it created some confusion about the Capitals' goaltending situation.

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed after Monday's 5-0 loss in New Jersey that Neuvirth "tweaked something lower body" during the morning skate so he was not able to play. Braden Holtby got the start instead, but the Capitals felt Neuvirth's injury was serious enough that he wouldn't even be able to go in a backup role, so they summoned Semyon Varlamov from Hershey.

Varlamov, who is working his way back from a groin injury that has plagued him all season, got the call late in the morning and hopped on a plane to get to Newark in time for the game. But, his skates didn't arrive with him, so despite his injury Neuvirth had to skate in warm-ups and sit on the bench through the first period as the Capitals waited for Varlamov's footwear.

Varlamov finally took his seat at the end of the bench 2:15 into the second period. The Capitals did not have a backup goalie on the bench to start the period.

"We asked for permission to have Neuvirth as a backup just in case anything happened until Varly's skates arrived and he could get on the bench," Boudreau said. "That's why Michal was on the bench and that's why Varly didn't show up until the second period.

"We talked to all of the officials and then we told New Jersey what was going on so they understood what was going on."

Boudreau never planned to play Varlamov despite the fact that it was 3-0 after the first period and 5-0 just eight minutes into the second. Varlamov is considered healthy, but Boudreau said he's working the rust off of his game with the Hershey Bears at the American Hockey League level, and it wouldn't be right to throw him in to an NHL game yet.

"No, we'd be kicking ourselves with no warm-up and everything else," he said. "(Varlamov) was there in an emergency situation. If Holtby had of gotten hurt is the only way he was coming out."

Boudreau is hoping Neuvirth is healthy enough to play Wednesday in Carolina. If that's the case, Varlamov could head back to Hershey after practicing with the Capitals on Tuesday to play in the Bears' game Wednesday against Worcester.

He's also hopeful that Mike Green and Tyler Sloan will be ready for Wednesday, but both left Monday's game with undisclosed injuries and will be evaluated Tuesday.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl

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