Braden Holtby wanted two goals back in the Washington Capitals’ 6-3 loss Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Lightning. Goal No. 1 by Eric Brewer and goal No. 5 by Cory Conacher were ones he thought he should have stopped.
“I don’t know if they would have went in still,” Holtby said. “But I felt that my positioning could have been better and reading the play. But as a whole it was just one of those nights the puck went in.”
Goaltending coach Dave Prior agreed. Those are the only goals he would be critical of Holtby allowing.
Part of the problem was traffic.
“Between the minors and the NHL for the goalies, one of the big differences is vision,” Prior said. “NHL teams and players do such a better job of standing in front of the net, screening you out, trying to keep you deep in your net, getting in your face. That’s something he knows well from the playoffs. You just have to keep trying to deal with it. That helped them get goals by him.”
One of the paramount things about Dale Hunter hockey during last year’s playoffs was that the Caps forced opponents to take shots from the outside.
But Holtby knows how to handle it.
“You just got to try and play through it. It’s a hard thing to do. They did a good job of it, obviously,” he said. “One of those things that you’re gonna work hard in practice, try and find sight lines the best you can and keep working harder.”
So what happened? Here’s a look, with the aid of video and Prior’s thoughts:
The Caps had dominated the early stages, and so Holtby didn’t see a shot for the game’s first few minutes.
“You’ve gone about 6½ minutes without a shot, so you get kind of antsy,” Prior said
A screen developed in front of him, and he tried to get around it. Brewer fired one that he never saw.
“When he had no view of the puck, he did more than he should, which hurt his chances of finding it again in time,” Prior said. “That’s not totally playing it wrong; you’re trying hard. …
“He didn’t see the first one, I don’t know if he ever would’ve. It might’ve still beat him.”
Marcus Johansson had the puck in the neutral zone, and Teddy Purcell came off the bench with speed and took it away. He and Conacher worked a textbook two-on-one.
It’s hard to fault Holtby given the breakdown in front of him, but perhaps it was one he could have stopped.
“[It] leaked through between his body and his stick arm. I would’ve liked him to be a little more aggressive on it and possibly it might’ve hit him more in the torso,” Prior said.