Holtby getting into Bruins' heads during series


Holtby getting into Bruins' heads during series

WASHINGTON, DC The Bruins thought they might have found something with Braden Holtby in Game 3.

They were getting traffic to the front of the net, and cashing in on rebounds that have seemingly been there since the very beginning of the series.

The Caps lost the blocked shot battle for the first time in the series, and it seemed the tide was turning.

But it turned out to be more of the same in Game 4 as Holtby and the Capitals defense was once again on display in a Game 4 win thats evened the series at 2-2.

David Krejci felt like the Bruins could have scored five or six goals against the Washington defense given their chances, but you wouldnt have known it by the centers zero shots on net. He was going to the danger areas at points, but Krejci didnt look poised to score at any point during the game.

In fact he hasnt looked that way in four games now with no points, no goals and a minus-1 after leading the Bruins with 12 goals during last years playoffs. Holtby has been a giant factor in all of that despite the Bs perceived scoring chances.

We had so many chances that my line could have scored five goals easily, said Krejci, a refrain that many utter in the playoffs when a goaltender has taken it away from them. But we didnt so its frustrating. I had a couple of great ones. Its frustrating when you get some chances and you want to score so badly. Maybe we need to relax and take a couple of deep breaths.

Give Holtby credit because hes a good goalie, but 45 shots on net you need more than one goal. We had six guys who scored 20 plus goals in the season and we have one goal on 45 shots? Its frustrating, but I still believe its coming.

The Caps goaltender once again stood on his head with 44 saves in Washingtons 2-1 victory over the Bruins, and gave the nip-and-tuck series a fourth one-goal game in four tries thus far.

Its pretty clear the Capitals mean business when Alex Ovechkin plays less than three minutes in the final period with Washington singularly focused on goal protection at all costs. But for Holtby hes in the middle of everything he always dreamed about while on his way to the NHL as a 22-year-old.

Every time I've watched the playoffs, there's kind of a burning in me, I think with every player, that they want to be there, said Holtby, who has joined Semyon Varlamov and Michael Neuvirth in the playoff tradition of rookie Caps goaltenders. That they think they can get to that level. It's just the start of the playoffs right now. I'm just trying to learn, try to improve and see how long we can go.

The Bruins were focused on getting traffic in front of the net and generating better offensive chances for their top-end forwards, but they couldnt consistently do that in Game 4. Some of that was Bostons inability to bully their way to the front of the net, but there was another factor thats beginning to loom large.

Holtby is starting to take on the face of a rookie goaltender poised to upset a heavy favorite in a playoff series something Ken Dryden did to the Bruins many years ago, but something Cam Ward did in recent years with the Carolina Hurricanes.

The bottom line is that the 22-year-old rookie goaltender standing on his head, and a Washington defense that blocked 12 shots in the third period, deserved a hard-nosed playoff win.

The story of the Capitals if they can advance beyond the first round will be the play of their rookie netminder, who made textbook saves of all manners against Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand throughout the game. Its pretty clear hes starting to get into the Bs heads as theyre rushing almost every good scoring chance they get around the net.

Holtbys .953 save percentage is second behind only Cory Schneider among the playoff goaltenders, and his GAA of 1.60 has equaled Tim Thomas in a playoff series featuring sparkling puck-stopping. The difference is that Holtbys save percentage is nearly 20 points higher than Thomas, and hes outplayed his decorated counterpart at times.

Holtby was chastising himself a bit for allowing a goal to Rich Peverley that tied the game in the first period on a shot he felt like he should have stopped. But from that point on he was a brick wall stopping 31 shots in the final two periods, and stoning Patrice Bergeron during a last second flurry with the goaltender pulled.

The Washington goalie made one unorthodox stop on Lucic during a rush to the front of the net in the second period, and that was the save of the game in Holtbys mind.

I guess I was in a zone to a certain extent in the second period I felt pretty good. I don't know. There's still improvement. There are still times Milan Lucic when he cut across the middle in the second period; that could've easily been a goal, said Holtby. There's still some improvement. I felt good, but far from perfect.

Holtby is far from perfect, but dominating the Bruins. That is not something a struggling group of Bs forwards wanted to hear.

Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win


Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win

GOLD STAR: Jake DeBrusk gave the Bruins all kinds of energy out of the starting gate, and made a couple of plays that allowed his team to hold a lead despite getting outplayed in the opening 20 minutes. DeBrusk went hard to the net splitting a couple of San Jose defenders on the first goal, and fired a shot on net that created a rebound for Peter Cehlarik to cash in on. Then DeBrusk scored a little bit later on a rush where he beat Brent Burns in a foot race to a loose puck, then whistled a wrist shot past Aaron Dell for his fourth goal of the season. DeBrusk finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net while falling just short of 16 minutes of ice time in the victory. It was a strong effort from DeBrusk shortly after being a healthy scratch, and showed what he’s capable of when he gets his skating legs going.

BLACK EYE: Brent Burns was a complete mess for the Sharks. He was burnt by Jake DeBrusk in each of the first two Bruins goals in the first period with the B’s rookie going right at him with the attack. He also didn’t make it to the net with 12 of the 16 shots that he attempted and Burns finished with seven giveaways as well. It’s been a rough follow-up season for Burns after last year’s Norris Trophy season where he’s tried to do too much for the Sharks, and his game has suffered as a result. That seemed to be the case for Burns against the Bruins as well where his mistakes played a big role in the Sharks dropping the game.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins won the game when they managed to survive an opening 20 minutes where they were outshot 17-5, and even better they had a 2-1 lead based on some offensive fireworks from Jake DeBrusk. They were also aided by a couple of video reviews where the Bruins took a San Jose goal off the board when it was ruled that a crashing Joonas Donskoi punched a puck into the net with his glove. The Peter Cehlarik goal was also upheld at the other end after a challenge from the San Jose bench. It looked like DeBrusk was tripped before he partially crashed into Aaron Dell that set up the Cehlarik goal, and that’s clearly how the referees saw it after reviewing the play.

HONORABLE MENTION: It’s got to be Anton Khudobin, who stopped 36-of-37 shots and improved to 5-0-2 on the season with another strong win aided by a stalwart defensive effort in front of him. Khudobin now has 12 of the 20 points that the Bruins have amassed on the season, and he absolutely rewarded the B’s for opting to go with the Bruins backup for a second game in a row as they ride the hot goaltender. Khudobin was helped by a number of Bruins blocked shots in the third period when the game was still very tight, but it was also about Khudobin coming up with 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were getting outplayed by the Sharks.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 – the number of Bruins rookies that have scored their first NHL goals this season, including Peter Cehlarik finally getting his first NHL score Saturday night in his 14th career game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We need them. They’re in the lineup and they’re playing significant minutes. We need them to produce for us. Tonight we needed some offense early, and they provided it for us.” – Bruce Cassidy, on the role of the rookies in the win where it was all first-year players Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen doing the scoring vs. San Jose. 

Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1


Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Anton Khudobin enjoyed getting pestered with shots early. He didn't have time to let his mind wander.

Khudobin stopped 36 shots to lead the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

"I like it busy," Khudobin said. "I don't have to think about anything else. The third-period start was unbelievable . . . I don't think I faced a shot until halfway through the period."

Peter CehlarikJake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen scored to help the Bruins get their second straight win after a four-game skid (0-3-1). Boston had totaled nine goals in its previous five games, scoring more than two for just the second time in nine November games.

"It went our way," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "They were clearly better than us but we come out 2-1 (in the three games on West Coast). If you stick with it, good things happen."

Khudobin remained unbeaten in regulation (5-0-2) and improved to 4-1 with a 0.99 goals-against average in five games against the Sharks.

Timo Meier scored and Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves for the Sharks, one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. San Jose has been held to two of fewer goals in five of their seven games this month.

"Guys in this room can score; we just have to do it," Sharks Logan Couture said. "I thought we had good chances and a lot of them at the end. We've got to create offense. If you don't score goals, you're not going to win."

Meier gave the Sharks, losers of two straight following wins in six of seven, a short-lived 1-0 lead after tapping in a rebound 4:50 into the game. Daniel O'Regan, making his season debut, won the puck behind the net and skated around to take the shot that bounced to Meier. It was O'Regan's first career assist and second career point.

"I just kind of fished it out and wanted to bring it to the net," O'Regan said. "Timo made a nice finish."

Cehlarik, in his 14th game, scored his first career goal about 1 1/2 minutes later to tie it for the Bruins.

Boston took the lead on DeBrusk's goal with 9:14 left in the first. Charlie McAvoy cleared a puck in his zone that DeBrusk, one of three rookies who scored, chased down and easily beat Dell 1-on-1.

"It's massive," DeBrusk said. "We all want it so bad and we all work so hard. These are big games for us."

Heinen made it 3-1 with 5:51 left in the third. Kevan Miller skated down the ice, drawing all the attention on the right side. He passed across the crease, from where Heinen tapped it in.

"He made a heck of a play," Heinen said. "I just put my stick on the ice."

The Sharks had a goal negated for the second straight game, this one two minutes in.

"We got enough looks tonight to score," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "We're doing more good than bad we're just not being rewarded."

NOTES: O'Regan was recalled before the game. He's the leading scorer for the Barracuda of the AHL. ... The Sharks have had three consecutive goals reversed after challenges dating to Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers. ... Sharks F Joel Ward has recorded points in six of his last eight games. ... DeBrusk, who assisted on Cehlarik's goal, recorded his first multi-point game since Oct. 14, a span of 14 games.


Bruins: At the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Sharks: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.