- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 9, 2015

The score sheet will show that Braden Holtby turned away 27 shots in the Washington Capitals’ 3-0 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. The play-by-play will show that he stopped Loui Eriksson at 5:55 of the second period and denied Milan Lucic almost four minutes later and foiled David Pastrnak at 5:45 of the third period.

What it does not show is the sheer dominance Holtby displayed in turning away each of those attempts — and in securing his third shutout of the season over the Bruins, stopping 88 attempts altogether.

“[I] felt good,” Holtby said, not long after securing his ninth shutout of the season. “I was seeing the puck well. Right from the start, I seemed to be able to see it. Guys were opening up lanes for me. To see that always helps. The start of the game, they gave me a few clear shots. That gets your head into it a little more.”

Eriksson attempted to get the puck by Holtby on a nifty little breakout, with Bruins left wing Brad Marchand getting the puck just past the reach of defenseman Karl Alzner and onto the tape of Eriksson’s stick. By the time he could muster a shot, though, he ran out of space, with his modest flip pegging Holtby in the goaltender’s right armpit.

Lucic then tried, alone on a breakaway, providing the Bruins with arguably their best opportunity of the evening. The big left wing ventured down the middle of the ice, but his shot thudded hard off Holtby’s right pad.

Pastrnak, the Bruins’ bright young rookie, later looked to have an opportunity to get on the board. And, his attempt at slipping the puck past Holtby was thwarted when the goaltender managed to slide his skate in the right wing’s way.

“We haven’t been able to get one past him,” Lucic said. “He’s been real good for them against us this year, and he’s a big reason why we lost all three games against them.”

Only two players have shut out the Bruins three times in a single season over the past 25 years — Holtby and Cristobal Huet, who had 95 saves in those games for the Montreal Canadiens in 2005-06.

The victory on Wednesday was Holtby’s 41st, tying him with Olaf Kolzig in 1999-2000 for the most with the Capitals in a single season. It came during his 24th consecutive start, also a franchise record, and helped him tie Montreal’s Carey Price and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury for the most shutouts in the league.

“He was good,” coach Barry Trotz said. “He was battling, and I was really happy for him. That’s pretty outstanding. I’ve had another real good goaltender in Olaf Kolzig, and Holts is breaking some of his records. That’s pretty outstanding.”

The Capitals have one more game remaining — Saturday against the New York Rangers — and will then begin their seventh foray into the playoffs in the last eight years.

Despite the magnitude of the milestones, Holtby doesn’t think there will be a time when he can allow himself to appreciate what he’s achieved.

“I hope not. I hope to do it next year, too. I don’t — the only time I’ll do that is if there’s a Stanley Cup ring around our fingers.”

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