Early In the second period of the Capitals’ 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night, goaltender Braden Holtby was on his knees in his crease, his mask lying on the ice and his bare face staring down the barrel of a Justin Faulk slap shot.
“It was a bizarre play,” Holtby recalled after the game. “Those plays you trust the ref to hopefully blow the whistle and luckily nothing bad happened.”
Caps defenseman Karl Alzner had pushed Jeff Skinner into the back of Holtby, knocking his helmet to the ice. But because there was no immediate whistle to stop play, Faulk wound up and fired from the blue line, forcing Holtby to throw both of his gloved hands over his face.
“If you watch the replay I don’t think Faulks is looking over there,” Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie said. “I know him pretty well and he’s not that kind of guy that would take a shot at a guy with a helmet off.
“Luckily, Holts is protecting himself down there because Faulk has a pretty heavy shot.”
Immediately after the puck sailed over Holtby’s head and into the net, Holtby glared at Faulk.
“It’s one of those plays where you kind of gotta get mad at (Faulk) right away,” Oshie said. “If I had my helmet off, I’d probably give him a longer stare. We’re lucky Holts didn’t get hit there.”
Asked if he felt a little bit like Gump Worsley, a former NHL goalie who played his entire career without a mask, telling reporters, “My face is my mask,” Holtby was quick with a reply.
“They didn’t have those (curved) sticks back in the day,” quipped Holtby.