After the Capitals’ loss to the Bruins Monday in Game 3 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal, rookie netminder Braden Holtby conceded that he wasn’t seeing the puck as well as he had been earlier in the series.
“All you can do is be professional about it and make sure you can do everything you can to be at a level that will make you [better],” Holtby said following the 4-3 defeat.
Tonight the 22-year-old did just that, making 44 saves — on a franchise-record 45 shots allowed in a non-overtime playoff game — to frustrate the Bruins and deliver a 2-1 victory that evens the series at two games apiece.
“We think he’s going to be good like that every single game and he usually is,” Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. “That just goes to show how good he is, how thick his skin is to bounce back after four goals last game, and people saying that maybe the flood gates are open, and obviously he did a good job. That’s a very veteran-like response, the way he played.”
With the Caps up 1-0, Holtby gave up the lone Bruins goal 13:12 into the first period after an offensive zone turnover by Alex Ovechkin gave Boston a two-on-one. With Dennis Wideman out of position and a rusty John Erskine all alone, Bruins forward Rich Peverley beat Holtby through the pads to tie the game at 1.
But Holtby withstood a flurry of shots from there on out — including 31 in the final two periods — and kept the Capitals in it after Alexander Semin’s eventual game winner with 1:17 remaining in the second. After the victory, Holtby said some of it was luck, but added that he was seeing the puck much better than he did in Game 3.
“I can usually tell when there are screens and I can follow the puck the whole way. I don’t know, I felt pretty good tonight, but there were still some lucky times,” Holtby said. “In the second period I felt pretty good, but there’s still some improvement.”
Much more to come soon, so stay tuned.