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Julien Brouillette’s first NHL goal helps send Caps into Olympic break with a victory
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He did, however, help send them off on a winning note.
Brouillette broke a scoreless tie with his first NHL goal midway through the third period, Braden Holtby stopped 25 shots and the Washington Capitals beat the New Jersey Devils 3-0 Saturday night in the teams’ final game before the Olympic break.
“I couldn’t think of anything. It was so confusing, but great at the same time,” Brouillette said of the goal. “It’s going to be hard to sleep tonight.”
After the Capitals controlled a faceoff in the New Jersey zone, Brouillette beat Cory Schneider on the short side with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle at the 10:50 mark. The goal follows an assist Brouillette earned in his NHL debut Thursday night.
“I’m sure he’s flying pretty high right now,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “Big goal. I haven’t seen the replay yet, but I know it was close to being tipped and the goalie getting frozen there a little bit there. But you know what, (Nicklas Backstrom) won a draw. That’s what it’s about.”
Martin Erat scored an empty-netter with 1:47 left for his first goal of the season to go along with 21 assists, and Troy Brouwer added another — his 100th career goal — 36 seconds later. Backstrom had two assists.
After starting in place of an ill Michael Neuvirth and getting the win Thursday night, Holtby earned his third shutout of the season and 10th in his career in Saturday night’s win.
“He came in there (Thursday night) and played great and played very solid today,” Oates said.
Scoring chances were at a premium for both teams.
“Obviously the Devils play that kind of game. They are will to play it every night, and it’s a frustrating team to play,” Oates said. “They don’t give you much. I looked up with nine minutes left in the third period, and I think it was 20 each in shots. Both teams played stingy.”
Schneider finished with 23 saves.
“We didn’t do enough offensively I thought to draw enough penalties to maybe create some power plays late,” New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer said. “We had enough chances to get two or three goals. We’ve got to finish something off.”
The win moves Washington to within one point of eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 63 points. The Capitals have won three of their last four and snapped a seven-game losing streak (0-6-1) against Metropolitan Division opponents.
“Crucial,” Capitals defenseman John Carlson said of the win. “This one a little bit more than the last one, but obviously for our team everything’s crucial right now, and (we’ll) carry a little bit of momentum into the break and we know we have our work cut out for us when we get back.”
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