Braden Holtby went back behind his own net in the second period Thursday night to retrieve the puck and make what should have been a routine pass to Karl Alzner.
The Capitals goaltender is a skilled puck handler and the coaching staff encourages him to make passes and serve as a third defenseman, but sometimes even the most ordinary play can go awry.
Holtby didn’t look as he sent the puck toward Alzner, and the pass was just beyond the defenseman’s reach. The puck wound up on the stick of Ottawa forward Cory Conacher, who fired a quick shot into the open net before Holtby could get back in position. Conacher’s goal gave the Senators a lead at the 13:26 mark of the second period and proved to be the game winner in a 3-1 victory over Washington.
“It’s just one of those rushed plays. Had to make a blind pass and I didn’t execute it on the tape,” Holtby said. “That’s one of those that you want back but you can’t let it dwell on you. It happens. They had a hard forecheck all game and they caused that turnover.”
Coach Adam Oates didn’t spend much time considering the mistake, knowing that more often than not, Holtby will complete the pass successfully, and stating that the blunder was a prime example of team’s overall struggles in Ottawa.
“I think that’s indicative of our game tonight; that’s a simple play for him,” Oates said. “That’s a play he’ll make 100 times in a row and I think his execution was off, too.”
The mistake was an example of the risk potential that exists with a goaltender playing the puck, but an occasional error doesn’t give Holtby second thoughts.
“It happens,” Holtby said. “You hope you don’t cause as many as you’re helping save with killing their forecheck. Those happen, but you don’t want to make a habit of it, obviously.”