Bruce Boudreau’s eyes sparkled. Michal Neuvirth had just won his third Stanley Cup Playoff game Wednesday night by beating the Rangers with probably his best performance so far.
“He’s not ordinary,” the Capitals coach said. “He’s a good goalie, and he’s gonna be as the years go on, you’re gonna find out he’s a great goalie.”
Neuvirth gave up three goals but just as in Game 3 it was tough to blame him. But unlike some goalies who sound confident, the 23-year-old just acts like it.
“I’m just trying to stay focused and every save in overtime I think is a big save,” he said Thursday. “And I think I made a nice couple saves in overtime and [Henrik] Lundqvist was playing huge, too.”
Going almost 13 minutes into double overtime was the longest game of Neuvirth’s career, he said. But he seemed focused and in the game all night.
Because of that, Boudreau made a major statement by not yanking him in favor of Semyon Varlamov when the Caps fell behind 3-0 and fans at Madison Square Garden were roaring. In fact, he never gave it a thought.
“I think if I’d have done that, the team might’ve thought that we were giving up, saving Neuvy for another day,” Boudreau said. “This team, they always believe that they can come back.”
A lot of it springs from a locker-room-wide trust in Neuvirth to at least make the simple saves and often the spectacular ones. His on Marian Gaborik in the second overtime came only a few minutes before Jason Chimera’s game-winner.
“You have to have belief in your players, and I certainly believe in him and Varly as goaltenders that they’ll make the save that’s necessary to make at the time they need to make it,” Boudreau said. “When you don’t have that belief, then you’re in trouble.”
Neuvirth keeps validating it game after game and save after save.