Goaltender Braden Holtby will downplay the fact that in his playoff career with the Capitals he is 10-2 in games that follow his own losses. And in all of those 10 wins, he has allowed two or fewer goals.
His teammates won’t.
“He’s so competitive he doesn’t want to lose twice in a row,” Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer said after watching Holtby record a 30-save shutout in a 1-0 win in Game 3, giving the Caps a 2-1 series lead. “He doesn’t want lose ever, for that matter. His preparation and his battle level and his poise is second to none as far as goalies I’ve played with.”
“Outstanding,” added Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen. “I’m not surprised. I’ve said this before. I’m not a goalie expert but he looks like he’s seeing the puck really well and not allowing a lot of rebounds. As a team I thought we did a good job of keeping them to the outside and he was scooping them up.”
“There were a couple chaotic shifts, but I thought Holtby, obviously, he was our best player,” Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “He settled everything down for us.”
Holtby’s shutout was the second of his playoff career and came exactly two years since his first, which came on May 4, 2013 in a 1-0 overtime victory against the Rangers. Holtby was aided by 27 blocked shots Monday night, including a game-high of seven by Niskanen and five each by Mike Green and John Carlson.
Sixteen of those blocked shots came in the third period, when the Rangers threw everything in their arsenal at Holtby.
“Those scrums in and around the crease, they can be a little frantic, tying up sticks, trying to knock guys over,” Brouwer said. “Sometimes you don’t even know where the puck is. You’re swinging at air and hoping you hit something.”
“It was a little crazy,” Holtby said. “But I thought we did a great job of controlling our game plan and taking [two] icings when we didn’t have plays. The guys played really good in front of me.”
And for their efforts the crowd serenaded Holtby with boisterous chants of his surname.
“You can hear it,” he said, straight-faced, “and I really appreciate it. It’s pretty flattering. But they can shout my name the other way pretty quickly.”