The Washington Times - March 19, 2011, 10:59AM

ARLINGTON, Va. - Braden Holtby hasn’t lost an NHL game in regulation since November. The good news for him is that streak will continue, but the bad news is it’s because he’s not with the Capitals anymore.

The team sent Holtby to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League Saturday morning, leaving the Caps with Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov.

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“I’d rather have him playing full-time in Hershey and us doing what we have to do up here,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said of Holtby. “We’d rather keep him sharp.”

Holtby, who was named the NHL’s first star of the week as he went 4-0 with a 1.05 goals-against average, could be in net for Hershey against Portland on Saturday night. He was considered a long shot to earn No. 1 time with the Caps, and now he’s likely back to waiting for one of the more established goaltenders to falter or get hurt.

“It’s tough. That’s the way that it works sometimes: You can play really good and it just doesn’t matter,” said defenseman Karl Alzner. “Sometimes the way the business works is that you literally can’t be here in terms of too many guys or the cap or whatever the situation is. That’s too bad, but we all know what he can do.

But for now, the nets at practice belong to Neuvirth and Varlamov, and it’s expected to be a battle down the stretch to see which guy is the playoff starter. Neuvirth made his statement Friday night with a 33-save shutout of the Devils, but coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters afterward that Varlamov would get his chance next week.

Varlamov is 10-8-4 with a 2.27 goals-against average this season but hasn’t played since Feb. 20 as he nurses a lower-body injury. It appears he’s good to go now and so Holtby’s trip on the Caps goalie carousel is over for the time being.