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Trotz sends message by pulling Holtby in loss to Montreal

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Trotz sends message by pulling Holtby in loss to Montreal

For the second time in less than two weeks, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby made the long skate from the crease to the bench. After giving up his third goal of the game and with the Caps trailing the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 in the second period, head coach Barry Trotz elected to relieve Holtby and put in backup Philipp Grubauer.

"Sometimes you have to pull your goaltender," Trotz said. "I can't fault Holts on any of those goals. At the same time, I couldn't get it changed on our bench a whole lot."

The move didn’t work.

Though the Caps did manage a comeback, they ultimately fell short in a 4-3 loss to Montreal.

For the night, Holtby turned aside 15 of the 18 shots he faced. It's not a stat line that will look great in the box score, but no one will put this loss on Holtby’s shoulders.

A good start for the Caps was erased by a bad turnover from Dmitry Orlov in the defensive zone that Alex Galchenyuk turned into the game's first goal. It was the sixth straight game in which the Caps had yielded the game's first goal and the 13th time in their last 16 games. Two first period penalties from Tom Wilson also derailed what remained of the team's momentum.

RELATED: Capitals' rally falls short in loss to Habs

"The timing of the penalty is probably the thing that disrupts the flow of the line changes and stuff and then just gives the other team momentum," Brooks Orpik said, "especially like I said when we had a really good start and kind of had them on their heels."

Montreal would convert on the second of Wilson's penalties as Brendan Gallagher went between two Caps defensemen to get to a rebound and extend Montreal's lead to 2-0. Former Cap Tomas Fleischmann then ended Holtby's night in the second as he was able to hit the corner of the net with Holtby rendered helpless by a screen.

"Those are moments that you hope your team responds because they all look and go, 'That's not Holts' fault.'" Trotz said. "Yeah, it's not. It's everybody's fault that we're in the situation where we are."

Did the team hear the message Trotz was trying to send? Loud and clear.

The Caps ultimately lost the game, but were able to make a game of it as they came back from a 4-1 deficit to make it 4-3.

Said Backstrom after the loss, "Holtby can't bail us out every time."

Message received.

MORE CAPITALS: Mike Yeo not happy with Adam Oates' presence in Minnesota

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!