TAMPA—Braden Holtby’s All-Star Game stats were, well, pretty ugly. But the Capitals’ netminder managed to take it all in stride Sunday—and he even poked a little fun at himself.
“It didn’t quite go as well as last year,” Holtby cracked at Amalie Arena, where his Metropolitan squad was eliminated in the semis, 7-4, by the Atlantic All-Stars. “That happens. You just kinda go in there with an open mind and hope you guess right sometimes. They made some pretty good plays.”
Holtby then joked, “No one came here to watch saves, anyway. The first game there were too many saves, so I let a few in.”
“No one came here to watch saves, anyway.” — #Caps goalie Braden Holtby cracking wise about giving up 5 goals on 10 shots. On Nikita Kucherov’s sick goal, Holtby said: “It’s a great move.” #NHLAllStars pic.twitter.com/GefEEOYeqQ— Tarik El-Bashir⌨️🎙🏒 (@TarikNBCS) January 29, 2018
Holtby’s stat line: five goals on 10 shots.
The defending champions were clinging to a 3-2 lead when Henrik Lundqvist handed over the net to Holtby, who surrendered five of the game’s next six goals, including one on an intentional whiff by Nikita Kucherov that’ll have people talking for a while.
“He’s got a lot of skill, and he surprised me,” said Holtby, who was making his third straight All-Star Game appearance. “It’s a great move. He’s one of those players who thinks like a goalie. It’s scary when guys think that way.”
Barry Trotz, the Metropolitan coach, didn’t have a problem with Holtby’s performance.
“Braden couldn’t do anything about any of the goals,” Trotz said. On the highlight reel goal, Trotz added, “That was pretty special. Kucherov is one of the greatest goal scorers.”
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Alex Ovechkin, meanwhile, was sympathetic to Holtby's plight, saying his goalie got put in a tough spot. Not only was he facing a loaded Atlantic lineup, Ovi said, he also had to go into the game cold due to the format.
“One thing for goalies, I think they have to be a little bit more warmer,” Ovechkin said. “You sit on the bench. You sit in the locker room. You don’t get any shots. Then you go out there [against] a full speeded guy like Kucherov or [Steven] Stamkos or [Erik] Karlsson and they come to you, it’s pretty hard. He was good.”
Holtby said he let Henrik Lundqvist decide if he wanted to play in the first half or the second of the game. But Holtby also wasn’t making any excuses after the game for the goals he allowed.
“I thought Hank deserved the right to choose,” Holtby said of deferring to the Rangers’ netminder. “He’s one of the great players in the game right now and in his career. You get a little bit of warmup, you see a couple of shots. But in the end you’re just trying to survive and hopefully the puck hits you in the right places.”