Last season Braden Holtby ranked near the top of virtually every goaltending category except one. In shootouts, his .718 save percentage ranked 28th in the NHL. He allowed 11 goals on 39 shootout attempts and the Caps went 5-4 in those games.
On Saturday night at Verizon Center, Holtby and the Caps experienced their first shootout of the season and Holtby was a perfect 4-for-4, stopping P.A. Parenteau, Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri to help give the Capitals a 3-2 victory clinched on a shootout goal by Alex Ovechkin.
“I’m much more comfortable (with Holtby) this year than last year,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said after the game. “It’s something he worked on last year. He’s very patient now where he wasn’t last year.
“I’m pretty confident our goalie is going to be as good as the other goalie no matter who’s in net, and we can throw some pretty good guys offensively that can find the back of the net. We don’t mind going to the shootout.”
Holtby said he and goaltending coach Mitch Korn go over a shootout pre-scout before every game, reviewing each potential shooter’s favorite moves.
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“But at the same time, even if a guy has tendencies he can switch it up and make you look kind of stupid, almost like Kadri did at the end there.”
Holtby was temporarily beaten on Kadri’s backhand to forehand move but was able to flash his right pad out to make the stop and win the game for the Caps.
“Parenteau had done that move to me twice before and I didn’t expect him to do it again and he did,” Holtby said. “So there’s a time and place for a pre-scout but you still have to stay loose and stay reactive in a way.”
Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.
Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.
Tarik’s three stars of the game:
1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers
Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby.
Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.
2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals
After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty-handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1.
It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.
3-Braden Holtby, Capitals
Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.
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The Caps looked like they had the win in hand as they led 2-1 late in the third period, but things went off the rails in the final four minutes in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers
Here's how the Caps lost.
An emotional start for Robert Luongo
Before the game, Roberto Luongo took the mic during an emotional tribute to the victims of the tragic Stoneman Douglas school shooting. As a writer, it was hard to get into the game after that. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for Luongo to focus to actually play in the game. But he did. He started off very well, making several strong saves in the first period. Washington scored late in the opening period after an offensive cycle of over a minute that completely wore out the Panthers' skaters. Otherwise, Luongo was brilliant turning aside 13 of the 14 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes.
Another shaky start for Braden Holtby
This was the best game we have seen from Braden Holtby in a while as he made a number of phenomenal saves in the second and third period. In the first, however, he continued to struggle. Maxim Mamin scored his first career NHL goal and point as a puck trickled through Holtby and Mamin was able to slam it home. Holtby was dealing with a screen, but reacted late to the initial shot and late to Mamin.
Aleksander Barkov splitting Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson
With a 2-1 lead late in the third, the Caps looked like they had control. But with less than four minutes remaining, Aleksander Barkov was able to split Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson to set up Nick Bjugstad for the game-tying goal. Ovechkin was backchecking, Carlson stepped up on him and then...nothing. It looked as if both players thought the other would take Barkov and Ovechkin let up at the same time Carlson skated past giving Barkov a lane to the net.
A late penalty to Lars Eller
With the game tied late, the Caps were exerting their will in the offensive zone with the cycle that had been dominant all game long...and then Lars Eller tried to set a pick on Bjugstad, knocking him to the ice. It was an obvious interference call with just 42 seconds remaining in the game. Florida would score 22 seconds later to deny Washington not only the win, but a point as well.