Alex Ovechkin said the Capitals played a “terrible” first period against the Devils on Saturday night and if not for goaltender Braden Holtby they would have been trailing by four or five goals instead of being able to pull out a 4-3 win.
“That’s why he’s the best goalie in the league,” Ovechkin said.
Brooks Orpik echoed those sentiments, saying Holtby deserved to be named one of the three stars of the game.
Holtby saw things differently after allowing three goals on 24 shots and improving to a league-best 37-6-3.
“Any time I let in a goal I’d like to have back it’s a game I’d like to make sure doesn’t happen again,” Holtby said. “Luckily, we have quite a bit of talent in this room and you never feel out of a game.”
Holtby was upset with the way he played Kyle Palmieri’s go-ahead goal in the closing minute of the second period when Palmieri roofed a shot from the goal line over Holtby’s left shoulder and under the crossbar.
“I just moved a little early,” Holtby said. “Especially a shooter like that who can pick a corner like that. I’ve got to commit to him a little more. I was a little more focused on the pass options in front and he was getting closer to the goal line and I just have to wait until he gets below that to make a move there. He made a smart play on a bit of a mistake I made and I paid for it.”
Holtby said the Devils’ third goal from Reid Boucher knuckled on him after deflecting off a Capitals stick.
Holtby is now 29-2-3 in his last 35 games with two shutouts, a 2.23 GAA and a .926 save percentage. With 37 wins he’s now within 11 wins of Marty Brodeur’s NHL record of 48 with 25 games to play.
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