Goaltender Braden Holtby earned shutouts in each of his last two games against the Winnipeg Jets, so it should come as little surprise that Coach Adam Oates has opted to start the 23-year-old again on Friday night in the second of back-to-back games at MTS Centre.
Holtby turned away 20 shots in Washington’s 4-0 win Thursday, just a few weeks after a 35-save shutout in a 3-0 win against the Jets back on March 2.
Both victories came in similar fashion, with the Capitals assembling two of their most consistent all-around performances on the road this season. While Holtby made important stops when he needed to, his teammates’ efforts in front of him ensured that the netminder didn’t have to thwart a high number of quality chances.
“It was strange. It was a different game than we usually have, shots wise. Usually there’s a lot coming from everywhere and tonight it seemed like they were waiting for their moments,” Holtby said following Thursday’s win. “You give up  shots, you should probably win a game. That’s a credit to how well we played. There’s still holes; obviously there always is going to be, there’s things we can improve on, but overall it was a worthy victory for us.”
Thursday night the Jets struggled to create traffic or generate shots that were even remotely threatening. Winnipeg’s best two scoring opportunities were both by winger Antti Miettinen.
The first, a 2-on-1 with Olli Jokinen and Miettinen against Karl Alzner with 12:20 gone in the second period, Holtby turned aside Miettinen’s shot with ease after going right to left across the goal mouth. Miettinen slipped behind the defense in the third period, and while it wasn’t as smoothly executed as the previous save on the Jets’ winger, Holtby stretched out his left leg for a toe save.
“The first 2-on-1 I played it better. I got over, just textbook like I want to do,” said Holtby, whose parents, Greg and Tami, are in Winnipeg this week to watch the Capitals. “The second one I kind of missed my push a bit, tried to wait him out, he made a move and I just tried to get my leg over there as quickly as possible. Luckily, he didn’t hit the hole.”
Holtby has started back-to-back games just once this season, on Feb. 26 and 27. The first night he earned a 33-save shutout in a 3-0 win over Carolina but in the second game he was pulled after allowing four goals on 18 shots in a 4-1 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers.
>> As expected, the Capitals placed Joey Crabb on waivers at noon (EDT) Friday. They’ll know at noon (EDT) Saturday if he has cleared. Coach Adam Oates said that with an abundance of right wingers in the lineup and the need to make space for defenseman Mike Green to return off injured reserve, Crabb simply became the odd man out.
If Crabb clears, the Capitals will likely assign him to the AHL’s Hershey Bears, but Oates said that still wasn’t certain.
“We’re going to see what happens. Hopefully for him he gets picked up. He’s been great,” Oates said Friday. “I said to him, ‘You didn’t play bad. We’re in a little bit of a roster issue hopefully someone picks you up and you get to play.’”
>> The Capitals held an optional skate at MTS Centre Friday morning and most of the players decided to not skate. Jason Chimera was the only player who played Thursday night who took part. Thursday’s scratches Aaron Volpatti, Jeff Schultz, Wojtek Wolski along with back up netminder Michal Neuvirth are the only others who took to the ice.
>> Oates said he plans on using the same lineup from the 4-0 win Thursday, which you can find here, in Friday’s round two against the Jets.