Michal Neuvirth wasn’t spectacular. He didn’t have to be. But he still finished with his first career shutout in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Friday night in the Capitals’ 2-0 victory over the Rangers.
“He’s been steady,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I think the guys are protecting him pretty well; he’s making the saves that he’s supposed to be making, and it’s just stuff that I expect out of him.”
That’s the point – it’s not a surprise that Neuvirth shut out New York at Verizon Center in front of a raucous crowd. He made 22 saves, few of them out of the ordinary. But that was because the Caps managed to force the Rangers into obvious shots and only a few Grade-A chances
“I felt pretty good about my game,” Neuvirth said. “I think we didn’t give up any big scoring chances and that was a solid team effort tonight.”
Neuvirth survived an early onslaught – 13 saves in the first period – and never wavered. It’s his fifth shutout of the season at large, and the 23-year-old doesn’t appear to feel the pressure.
“You wanna go out and play and have fun and it’s lots of fun,” center Marcus Johansson said of his and Neuvirth’s play.
Boudreau made sure to note that Semyon Varlamov is perhaps equally as unflappable in pressure situations. But the Caps seem to play particularly well in front of Neuvirth – and it’s thanks to the young goalie’s attitude.
“We’re all behind him,” forward Marco Sturm said. “He’s so confident and he shows it on the ice, too.”