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Holtby has been a model of consistency for Caps


Holtby has been a model of consistency for Caps

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.

RELATED: Holtby leads Capitals past Lightning, 2-1

"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

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John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.


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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

The win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.