Braden Holtby made 24 saves Saturday in his first career playoff shutout. But only maybe one or two of those stops was difficult in getting the Washington Capitals a 1-0 victory in Game 2 against the New York Rangers.
“It wasn’t a very straining game on a goalie,” Holtby said. “They probably didn’t even reach double digits in scoring chances. I felt comfortable out there, but there’s still room for improvement.”
Holtby had four shutouts during the regular season, a couple of which were similar to Saturday, when defenders in front of him kept the 24-year-old goaltender from working too hard. Still, he said there were a few pucks that could’ve gone in. “I’ll work on those.”
Coach Adam Oates called it a “good hockey game,” and it was one his Caps dominated. Rangers Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves and was just about the only reason it went to overtime.
“He’s outstanding,” defenseman Mike Green said. “Any time we had some momentum, he took the wind out of our sails and made it frustrating for us.”
Holtby stifled the Rangers by making routine saves. One he made through traffic in the first period was a challenge, but New York didn’t have many quality opportunities.
The Rangers’ best chance came with 3:44 left in the third period when Rick Nash got a breakaway and hit the post to Holtby’s right. It wasn’t a shot on goal, part of the final 17:43 when New York didn’t get a single puck on net.
“When everybody’s on the same page that’s when tight defense is key,” Green said. “That was the case [Saturday]: Everybody played well everybody was pulling the same wagon and we did well.”
Holtby pulled his rope, even if it wasn’t a difficult task.
“I think we’re just keeping it simple now,” Holtby said. “The main thing is you have to be calm on it. You want to be aggressive, but once you start running around, you get out of place. Simplify, know your job, and guys are doing a tremendous job of it right now.”