With their 5-0 win over Carolina, the Capitals won their 10th straight game at Verizon Center.
While that’s impressive, it might not have been their most significant accomplishment Tuesday night. That’s because Braden Holtby’s 23-save effort also gave the Caps their 10th shutout of the season, a new franchise record.
Holtby now has seven shutouts, tying him for the league lead with Kings’ netminder Peter Budaj. Holtby’s backup, Philipp Grubauer, owns the other three.
“Our goalies have all year been unbelievable for us,” Marcus Johansson said. “It’s fun to play right now. The confidence in the group is outstanding. And the goaltenders are giving us a chance night in and night out.”
Indeed, Holtby and Grubauer have been great. But you don’t earn 10 shutouts in 54 games with great goaltending alone. It requires a team effort. And right now, no one in the NHL is playing better as a unit than the league-leading Caps.
“Both of those guys have been outstanding,” Coach Barry Trotz said of his goalies. “In the locker room [Justin Williams] said every night we could hand the [game MVP] award out to those guys because they’ve been very, very good.”
“But,” Trotz continued, “at the same time, it’s a team. …Our overall five-on-five has been solid for the most part. Our goaltending has been solid. A lot of areas have been really good.”
The Caps’ previous high for shutouts in a season was nine, which the team managed in 2014-15 (all with Holtby in net) and 1995-96 (all by Jim Carey).
Two more interesting factoids about the double-digit shutout total: nine have come at home, which is also a record, and three times the Caps have pitched shutouts in back-to-back games, including consecutive 5-0 wins over the Kings and ‘Canes.
It’s even more ridiculous when you look at the scores of the shutouts, particularly the last four.
- Oct. 18: 3-0 vs. Avalanche.
- Nov. 18: 1-0 vs. Red Wings
- Dec. 11: 3-0 vs. Canucks.
- Dec. 23: 4-0 vs. Lightning.
- Jan. 5: 5-0 vs. Blue Jackets
- Jan. 7: 1-0 at Senators
- Jan. 13: 6-0 vs. Blackhawks
- Jan. 15: 5-0 vs. Flyers
- Feb. 5: 5-0 vs. Kings
- Feb. 7: 5-0 vs. Hurricanes.
Asked about the Caps’ ridiculous run of blanking opponents, Holtby said he and Grubauer don’t give shutouts much thought as they’re unfolding.
“Shutouts are a funny thing because some games you play better than you do in shutouts and the puck goes in,” Holtby said. “So you can’t really look into that [too] much. I think we’re more focused on giving our team a chance to win based on the night that’s been handed to us. Philipp has done a phenomenal job of that.”
Then Holtby channeled his inner Bill Belichick.
“We’re just trying to do our job,” he said.
MORE CAPITALS: Caps extend home dominance to 10 straight wins