The memories are hazy for Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.
Exactly eight years ago, Nov. 5, 2010, Holtby made his NHL debut under bizarre circumstances. Not expecting to play and with his team ahead 3-0 in the third period of a game against the Boston Bruins, Holtby was called upon when Michal Neuvirth allowed three goals in a 6:44 stretch. Suddenly the game was tied. Suddenly Holtby was in.
“I had been up [in the NHL] for quite a while, but hadn’t played yet,” Holtby said. “We were up 3-0, and it was looking like there was no chance of going in. ... Once I went in, the guys turned the corner and played really well. But I didn’t do much.”
Holtby made four saves over the final 10 minutes, nine seconds. Asked if he remembered who scored the game-winning goal, Holtby scrunched his face and asked “Mike Green?”
Close. Green had scored earlier in that game, but it was another defenseman, John Carlson, who put Washington ahead, 4-3, with a slap shot with 6:35 to play. Alex Ovechkin added an empty-net goal to seal Holtby’s first win. To this day he has no idea where the puck from his first victory is.
“Feels like a long time ago,” Holtby said.
He won’t celebrate the anniversary by playing in Monday night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. Holtby will instead rest for backup goalie Pheonix Copley with a busy week of games on tap.
Holtby said he has more vivid memories of his second NHL game. His dad, Greg, and a close family friend whom he considers an uncle arrived in Washington in time to see him make his first start two days later on Nov. 7, 2010 against the Philadelphia Flyers at Capital One Arena. Holtby won that one, too, 3-2 in overtime with 23 saves.
“I was definitely nervous when I went in that first time against Boston,” Holtby said. “A lot of guys get their first NHL minutes in that situation, but the game usually isn’t close. That was the unique thing about it. It wasn’t 4-0 or something, and you’re just killing the clock out.”
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