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.
"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."
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