News, notes and quotes as the Capitals reflect on Saturday night’s 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning and look ahead to Monday night’s visit to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins (6:30 pregame, CSN):
Two or fewer: The numbers speak for themselves. When the Capitals allow two or fewer goals this season they are 16-1-1. And while his goal every game is stop every shot he sees, Braden Holtby understands there’s a pretty simple formula to getting wins in the NHL.
"What I've been trying to work on is consistency from Day One," Holtby told reporters following his 35-save performance in Tampa.
“I feel that two-goal range is where you give your team a chance to win. It makes it easier on your mental game if you're not trying to get a shutout every night. It breeds more consistency. There's always room for improvement."
In 23 starts this season Holtby is 18-4-1 with a 1.90 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. He leads the NHL in wins and GAA and ranks fifth in save percentage. Those are Vezina Trophy numbers. Team Canada numbers if you’re looking into the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
"I can't say enough about him," Capitals defenseman John Carlson said after Saturday night’s win, which gave the Caps a three-point lead over the Rangers and Islanders in the Metro Division. "I feel like a broken record talking about him all the time. He performs every single night. He's there for us. It's great that he's on our team."
Holtby was nearly perfect for the Capitals Saturday night, and he had to be. The Caps carried a 2-0 lead into the third period and then held on for dear life, getting outshot 15-1 in the final 20 minutes.
"I thought we had the better of them tonight," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "Unfortunately, we didn't get the result."
The Caps were outshot 36-20 overall.
"Obviously, that's not the way we'd like to play every night, but it's a win," Holtby said. "We know Tampa is very good at home, and you've got to give them some credit, they played a really good game."
Bottom six shuffle: Looking for some more offense from his bottom two lines while also trying to accommodate fathers wanting to see their sons, Capitals coach Barry Trotz constructed a third line of center Jay Beagle between left wing Jason Chimera and Stan Galiev; and a fourth line of center Brooks Laich between left wing Andre Burakovsky and right wing Tom Wilson.
It took only 2:09 for Galiev to help set up Beagle on the doorstep for Beagle’s fourth goal of the season. Galiev’s shot from the left circle handcuffed Tampa netminder Ben Bishop and Beagle whacked in the rebound.
Beagle’s goal came on his only shot of the game. In fact, only six Caps forwards were credited with shots against the Lightning. Justin Williams led all forwards with five shots, while Alex Ovechkin managed just one.
MORE CAPITALS: Must-see Evgeny Kuznetsov goal against Tampa Bay