Braden Holtby is in the final year of his contract. This may well be his final season with the Capitals, but regardless of what the future may hold for him, there is one play that will forever encapsulate his legacy with the franchise, "The Save."
Two years ago on May 30, 2018, Holtby pulled off the greatest save in the history of the franchise and perhaps one of the most important saves in the history of the game. That's not an exaggeration, it did preserve a one-goal lead in a Stanley Cup Final game, after all.
Down to the Vegas Golden Knights in the series 1-0, Washington clung to a 3-2 lead late in the third period of Game 2. Vegas dumped the puck and it took a weird bounce off the wall. Instead of wrapping around the wall as usual, it bounced back out and through the crease. A surprised Holtby sank back in his crease just to avoid the puck deflecting off of him into the net. Cody Eakin was the first player to the puck and he fed Alex Tuch for what looked like a wide-open shot...but Holtby reached out his stick in desperation and stopped the puck with the paddle.
The shock in Doc Emrick's voice was palpable as he shouted, "It didn't go!" The Vegas fans in the arena were in shock. Alex Ovechkin was in shock as he buried his head in his hands. No one could believe that Holtby had stopped the puck from going in.
Interestingly enough, what made the save possible was the initial bounce through the crease that forced him back to the goal line. The normally aggressive Holtby was deep in his crease when Eakin got the puck, not allowing him to come out to challenge. That allowed him to reach back for the impossible save on Tuch.
"The Save" ultimately proved to be the turning point of the series. It preserved the Game 2 win for Washington and the Caps did not lose again. Had Vegas tied the game and go on to win, they would have taken a 2-0 series lead into Washington.
This will probably be Holtby's last season in Washington, but that will never take away from this moment.
Since the 2012-13 season, no goalie has played in more games or has more wins than Holtby. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2016, the William M. Jennings Trophy in 2017 and has the record for most wins in a season (48) tied with Martin Brodeur. He is the best goalie in franchise history, but for all his accomplishments, he will be remembered in Washington for one moment, one save that happened two years ago and would that eventually earned his name etched on the Stanley Cup.
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