- The Washington Times - Friday, April 28, 2017

When the Washington Capitals faced the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round 1, goaltender Braden Holtby and coach Barry Trotz noted how many of Toronto’s goals were coming off unpredictable bounces that were put back in the net.

The goals weren’t “lucky,” per se, but those types of scores are also part of being a goaltender. The Capitals tried to clean them  up by better controlling the sightlines and clearing out Holtby’s crease.

With a 3-2 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1, Trotz was more direct in his assessment.

“I thought all three goals were very preventable on our side [Thursday],” Trotz said.

I think we realize we played a really strong game,” Holtby said. “I know I need to be better if we’re gonna have success and that’s basically the bottom line. We played strong, if we continue to play that way, we’re gonna have success.”

Penguins star Sidney Crosby scored the two first goals in a span of 52 seconds just after the second period started. On the first goal, Crosby capitalized on a 2-on-1. While on the second, Holtby redirected the puck and forward Patric Hornqvist passed it to Crosby, who converted the goal from Holtby’s back.

On the game winning goal, center Nick Bonino skated through the center of the ice on a late breakaway and had a clear shot that Holtby missed.

“I thought the first and third goals were ones that I’m capable of stopping and that’s the difference in the game,” said Holtby, who had 18 saves on 21 shots faced.

Holtby said on the first goal he didn’t put his glove in the right position.

“It’s one that I’m capable of stopping and will next time,” Holtby said.

Trotz said all three could have been defensed. He said it’s up to Holtby’s teammates, too, who peeled off the slot and made it easier for the puck to bounce.

Trotz, though, echoed confidence in his goaltender going forward.

Braden has won us a lot of games,” Trotz said. “If he feels like he can be better, then he will be better. That’s just the way he is in terms of his DNA. Next game will have to be his best and next game will have to be our best.”

Game 2 is Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Verizon Center.

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