It wasn’t a perfect night for Braden Holtby, who on Tuesday in Montreal was making his fourth straight start and appearance in a fifth consecutive game. Just 1 minute 26 seconds into the contest, he played the puck up the boards only to have it intercepted by Travis Moen and shot back on net before he could regain his composure to tie the game at 1.
But the 21-year-old Saskatchewan native fought through arguably his most unsteady showing during this call-up stint and Holtby came up big when the Capitals needed him to in the third period against the Canadiens to make sure Washington would be able to capture a 4-2 win.
“I just try to tell myself it was just a bad decision and just a miscommunication,” Holtby said of the error early. “It’s obviously my fault but if there’s a bit of a different change, I could have made an easier play. Just didn’t have any other outlets and I put myself in a bad position and turned the puck over. Just kind of told myself that it canceled out the lucky bounce we got at the start and battled as hard as I could.”
The lucky bounce he referred to was when a dump-in bounced off the glass while Montreal’s Carey Price was waiting for it behind the cage, giving Marcus Johansson an open net to shoot at for a 1-0 lead 66 seconds into the contest. It just wasn’t the night to play the puck at Bell Centre.
Unlike his previous games in the past 10 days, Holtby appeared to fight the puck against the Canadiens. Rebounds bounced away from his pads with plenty of life and he couldn’t seem to get solid control of the puck when he tried to come out and play it. But after the strange start the Capitals did everything they could to prevent him from seeing the puck much.
While Holtby credited his defense, the relatively few shots he faced compared to his other recent starts made it a little tougher to settle into a groove, as evidenced in part by Andrei Kostitsyn’s goal scored off a seemingly harmless shot from the high slot.
“I was a little worried, quite frankly, when they scored the second one because he hadn’t had a lot of work and I was wondering if he was getting tired,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He settled in he made some good saves when he needed to and in the end that’s what you need the goalie to do.”
Said Holtby when asked if he would have preferred to face more shots later: “Obviously you always want to feel the puck at the start of a game. On a night like this where the guys are in the other end you can’t complain. From start to finish I don’t think there were any major breakdowns.”
Holtby did make some important stops in the third period when the Capitals needed him to, though, including a poke check on David Desharnais early in the final frame when the game was still tied 2-2.
--Boudreau said Eric Fehr, who left the game after Montreal’s second goal was scored and only played 5:16, suffered an upper-body injury. Fehr is day-to-day following the injury which occurred in only his fourth game back from a 22-contest layoff because of a dislocated shoulder.
“We’ll see how it is tomorrow morning,” Boudreau said. “We were told to keep him out today and the rest of the game and we’ll see in the morning.”