After splitting with the New York Rangers on the road, the Capitals returned to Verizon Center for Games 3 and 4 looking to take advantage of home ice. In those two games in D.C., the Caps managed only three goals and Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Marcus Johansson, Mike Green and John Carlson were all held without a single point.
The result? The Capitals managed to win both games at home and now hold a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Typically, three goals in two games is not a formula for success, but it is when your goalie only allows one goal over that stretch.
With names like Ovechkin, Backstrom, Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis coming together, it may seem surprising to find these two teams locked in a goalie duel, but four games into the series, that is exactly what it has turned into. Both teams are averaging less than two goals per game and the Caps have out scored the Rangers 7-5.
"I think both goaltenders have played very, very well," Barry Trotz said following Game 4. "[Henrik Lundqvist] on the other side has played extremely, extremely well and it's a battle out there. I think both teams have confidence there.
"It gives you a little bit of a security blanket and you rally around those guys."
When teams get locked into a goalie duel against New York, that matchup tends to favor the Rangers with Lundqvist between the pipes.
The former Vezina Trophy winner's current playoff save percentage of .939 is the highest he has managed in the playoffs in his illustrious career. Yet, he is still being outdueled by Holtby's unreal .950, the third-best single-season playoff save percentage of all time.
To put that into perspective, remember Jaroslav Halak's unbelievable playoff performance in 2010 that sent the Caps packing in the first round? Halak's save percentage that year in the postseason was .923.
Holtby also currently ranks as the all-time leader in career playoff save percentage.
Read that again. Holtby has the best ever career playoff save percentage and it seems to be wearing on the Rangers.
"Well, there's no doubt that he has been good," head coach Alain Vigneault said. "He has made some big saves....We're getting the looks, just not obviously beating the goaltender."
"[We need to] score goals. I think that's bottom line," said Carl Hagelin who was denied on a penalty shot in Game 4. "We're playing hard, everyone is trying."
"We've got to find a way," said Martin St. Louis who was stuffed on a breakaway in Game 3.
Heading into the regular season, the question surrounding Holtby was whether he was good enough to be an NHL starting goaltender. Now the question is just how far the Caps' red-hot goalie take them?
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