Goaltender Braden Holtby's previous call up to Washington didn't quite end as he would have liked it to. The 21 year old allowed three goals in five shots, in nine minutes, against Atlanta on Nov. 19 then was in net for the duration of Washington's 5-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Nov. 22. Granted he didn't get the entire support of his teammates on those occasions, it's a tough memory to be sent back down to the AHL with.
But with 24 saves and a 2-1 win over the Islanders Thursday night, Holtby got a confidence boost even if he wasn't quite as perfect as he would have liked to be.
"Obviously [the previous starts are] in the back of my head for sure," Holtby said. "I wanted to make sure that the next time I got an opportunity up here -- that's not usually how I play those last two games that I was up here -- I showed what I can do. Still I don't know if I prepared myself perfectly yet, I had a lot of lucky bounces go my way but sometimes you need those."
Facing six power play chances for the Islanders and protecting a one-goal lead for over half the game, Holtby stood his ground well after giving up one goal. The lone tally Holtby allowed, by New York's Michael Grabner was a shot he had seen before, when the Islanders' winger was back with the Manitoba Moose two seasons ago. "If I had another chance," Holtby said, "I'd make sure he doesn't score on that move."
Coach Bruce Boudreau enjoyed seeing Holtby respond from the disappointment of his previous call up so well, because although it's been two months he knows those types of games stick with players.
"It really shows mental toughness because he's come off two games -- the 5-0 Jersey game and the 5-0 Atlanta game -- that then you go back to the minors and you say: 'Geez am I ever going to be able to play again?'" Boudreau said. "And he comes in here and confidence wise he looks at that [win] and he goes: 'Great I know I can play in the NHL again. It happens all the time where you doubt yourself when you leave on a bad note. It was a great moment for him."