On New York’s 30th shot of the game, just 7 minutes 39 seconds into the second period, Carl Hagelin scored on a redirection. The tally only tied the score, but it put New York en route to a 2-1 win over the Capitals, who saw their winning streak snapped after three games.
Holtby was spectacular, finishing with 38 saves on 40 shots, but his teammates couldn’t come up with the support to help him cash in a victory.
“You know he’s not going to make every single one of them. He made more than enough to try and win us the game tonight,” winger Troy Brouwer said. “It’s as well as I’ve seen him play. He gave us lots of opportunities to win it, unfortunately we couldn’t help him out.”
Washington caught the Rangers off guard early in taking a 1-0 lead just 79 seconds into the contest when John Carlson blasted a slap shot from the top of the right circle that beat Henrik Lundqvist (27 saves) on his blocker side.
For the rest of the first period, though, it was clearly Holtby’s spotlight as New York found its footing. He made a stellar stop on Hagelin at the top of the crease. Then, on the Rangers’ first power play, Holtby had a left toe save on Ryan Callahan in the slot.
New York had three power plays in the opening period but passed up multiple shot opportunities and finished with just five shots on the man-advantage before the intermission. The Rangers’ other special teams unit fared much better, however, requiring even more heroics from Holtby.
With the Capitals on their first power play of the night, penalty killers Callahan and Jeff Halpern hemmed them in their own zone and peppered Holtby with three quality shots in seven seconds, but the netminder was up to the task. To close out his 20-minute highlight reel, Holtby made a pad stop on Marian Gaborik with less than four minutes remaining in the period.
“It felt comfortable,” Holtby said. “[If] you break it down, I don’t know if we gave up any more scoring chances than we usually do. It was just a lot of shots in the first couple periods, and that’s my job to stay in it and give us a chance to win.”
Holtby may have played down his performance, but his teammates certainly didn’t.
“Amazing. I’d describe him as Braden. That’s the way he plays,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “He was calm, you could tell the way he was playing the puck was amazing. Didn’t rush anything.”
Early in the second Tom Poti, who was playing in his first game since Feb. 5 because Mike Green was out with a lower-body injury, lost track of Hagelin down low and the left wing managed to redirect a shot-pass by Ryan McDonagh to tie the score at 1.