- The Washington Times - Monday, April 4, 2016

Braden Holtby’s pursuit of an NHL record has turned what would have been a meaningless final week of the regular season into anything but for the Washington Capitals.

With wins in two of the Capitals‘ final four games, Holtby could set the record for the most victories in a season by a goaltender, surpassing Martin Brodeur’s 48-win total from the 2006-07 season.

Coach Barry Trotz said on Monday that Holtby will start on Tuesday against the New York Islanders and on Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’ll likely get at least one of the final two games as well — on the road against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday or at home against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.

“That’s something that’s very important to us,” said right wing T.J. Oshie, acquired via trade with the Blues last July. “I’m not sure if he says it or not, but it’s something that would be really cool for him to accomplish. We’ll be fighting for him, for sure, in here every game.”

Washington (55-17-6, 116 points) recently claimed the Presidents’ Trophy, giving it the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. A victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday also set a franchise record for wins in a season.

The game at St. Louis on Saturday could provide a twist. Brodeur is currently an assistant general manager with the Blues, making it possible that Holtby could set the record with Brodeur in the audience. Brodeur, playing for the New Jersey Devils, set his record in a road game against the Philadelphia Flyers with previous record-holder Bernie Parent in attendance.

Brodeur set the record having played in 78 games that season, whereas Parent played in 73. Holtby, who tied a franchise record with 73 appearances last year, has played in only 64 games thus far.

“We’re doing something together with Holts that I think is pretty impressive,” Trotz said. “I think they know how important he is to our team. He’s obviously one of the more popular guys in the room, and I think they all take pleasure if he could get it.

“Obviously, it will be something that his name will be attached to, but in the room, everybody knows that they’re attached to that, and they’ve been a part of something — hopefully, if he gets it — part of something special.”

Holtby, who entered Monday fourth in the league with a 2.17 goals-against average and seventh with a .923 save percentage, was nearly impenetrable during the early part of the season. From Nov. 25 through Jan. 14, he went 23 games without a regulation loss, and his 22-game point streak was the longest since Jose Theodore put together a 23-game streak during the 2009-10 season.

Recently, he has been credited with the victory in four of his last five games and in seven of his last 10, including a 19-save performance, with two goals allowed, against the Avalanche.

“Your goal as an athlete, as a member of a team sport, is to help the team in any way possible, and that doesn’t just mean statistics,” Holtby recently told reporters. “[It’s] trying to help the momentum of games, communication on the ice, all those little things that go into a smooth game and helping your teammates out. That’s what’s made us successful this year.”

Center Jay Beagle said Holtby’s pursuit of the record underscores something else players collectively find important. If he reaches that mark, that would mean the Capitals would be entering the postseason on a high note.

“It’s something that, you know, obviously, he needs us to play our best these next four games, and it’s also great timing because we’ve got to play our best going into the playoffs,” Beagle said. “It’s just something else to play hard for. He stood on his head all year, and we, obviously, would love to pay a guy back like that who’s been a rock for us all year.”

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