News, notes and quotes as the Capitals enjoy the part they played in an historic sports night in D.C. and look ahead to Game No. 35 in Buffalo Monday night:
Holt-ing the fort: Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby stopped 29 of 30 shots in the Caps’ 3-1 win over the Canadiens on Saturday night, boosting his league-leading win total to 22. He is now 14-0-1 in his last 16 games with one shutout, a 1.85 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage.
The Caps have won seven in a row and Holtby has picked up five of them.
“I don’t think any of us even know we’ve won seven in a row,” Holtby said. “We expect a win every night and we try to plan in a way that gives us the best chance to do that. That’s just our mindset. Winning streaks really don’t matter at all except to media people. Two points is all we’re trying to do day in and day out.”
Holtby has won his last 10 decisions at Verizon Center (he was pulled in the Caps’ 4-3 comeback win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 18). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Holtby is the first NHL goaltender to win 10 straight home-game decisions in one season since Minnesota's Josh Harding and Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury did it in 2013-14.
Holtby leads the NHL in wins (22) and goals-against average (1.92) and ranks fifth in save percentage (.932). Since the start of the 2012-13 season, Holtby ranks tied for first in the NHL in wins (109) and tied for third in shutouts (18).
“I think we’re getting better and better with preparation and focusing on our breakouts,” Holtby said. “They’re not the fancy plays but they’re the ones that win games.”
The Beagle factor: Like many of the Capitals this season, Jay Beagle is enjoying a career year offensively. His top-shelf goal Saturday night was his fifth of the season, putting him on pace for 12 goals and 26 points, both better than the career highs he set last season with 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points.
But here’s a stat that jumps off the page: Since he came into the NHL in 2009-10, the Caps are a remarkable 21-0-5 when Beagle scores a goal. They are 9-0-1 this season when Beagle records a point.
“It’s huge when the bottom six can contribute,” said Caps right wing Tom Wilson, who assisted on Beagle’s goal with a nice drop pass. ”It’s not to say the bottom six don’t work as hard, but usually they’re the plumbers and grinders. When we see Beags score a goal it’s uplifting.”
Getting dirty: In his second full season in the NHL Evgeny Kuznetsov is quickly earning a reputation for his deceptive passing skills, but on Saturday he showed some grit in front of the Montreal net when gained position on Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin to deflect a Nate Schmidt point shot past goalie Mike Condon.
Kuznetsov has matched his 11-goal total from last season and is on pace for 27 goals and 48 assists.
Statistically speaking: Alex Ovechkin blocked a pair of shots in the Caps’ win Saturday night, one by Montreal defenseman Jeff Petry and another, unintentionally, by Matt Niskanen. Ovechkin has blocked 13 shots this season. Nate Schmidt’s two assists marked his first career multi-point game. He has earned a career-high five assists this season and has tied his career high with six points. The Capitals are 14-3-1 at home this season They are also 12-2-0 against the Atlantic Division this season and 19-4-0 against the Eastern Conference. They are 10-0-2 against teams from Canada this season.