NEW YORK - Braden Holtby is the first to tell you he thrives on playing every other night. But after skipping a start in Florida on Saturday and getting a day off on Sunday he refused to use inactivity as an excuse for Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers.
“I’ve always felt better when I’m consistently on the ice, but that’s not an excuse here,” Holtby said after five goals on 21 shots, including four on the first 10 he faced. “You adapt to what you’re dealt with and I didn’t do that well enough tonight. It’s something I’ll learn from and be better next time.”
The Capitals outshot the Rangers 34-21 and dominated them 14-2 in shots in the second period, but were trailing 4-1 just 7 minutes into the middle period.
Holtby blamed himself for Oscar Lindberg’s game-opening goal, saying he found Kevin Hayes’ shot late and kicked the rebound right to Lindberg.
He also took the blame for the Rangers’ third goal by Kevin Klein, saying he gave him too much net at which to shoot.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz did not completely absolve his goalie, either, saying he considered pulling him after two periods.
“They had four on 10 shots,” Trotz said. “When Holts is on he can get a couple of those, but we gave him some pretty good looks too and he stopped a couple of point blankers. That’s the way it goes.
“He’s one of the best goaltenders in the National Hockey League. I played him a lot (last season) and I’m going to play him a lot (this season). That’s why I let him fight through that. We debated whether to pull him after the second but he’s one of our top players and I’m going to stick with him and let him fight through it.”
The Caps’ power play twice had a chance to get them back into the game but failed both times, late in the opening period (which extended into the second) and midway through the second period. The Caps fell to 0-for-9 on the man-advantage their last four games.
“They got momentum at the end of our power play,” Trotz said. “That’s two games in a row and that’s got to stop.”
Several Caps said they liked the way they played in the second period, but acknowledged they need to tighten things up better in front of Holtby, who allowed five goals for the first time since a 5-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks in the second game of the season.
“I think you look at our team and you see we can do some things very well and other things, we talk about playing the right way,” Trotz said.
“At points in the game we didn’t play the right way and got burnt by it. Holtby’s been an eraser for us many nights when we haven’t been good and (Henrik) Lundqvist has been an eraser for them when they’re not as good as they can be. That’s why goaltending is such a big part of game.”