Monday morning, Coach Adam Oates talked about what it can mean for a team when its goaltender makes important, improbable saves. Monday night Braden Holtby offered an example.
With just more than eight minutes gone in the second period and the game tied 1-1, Holtby stopped a shot by Jesse Joensuu and sent the rebound out to his left. Unfortunately that’s precisely where David Perron was and the Oilers winger teed up a shot.
Holtby managed to get across the crease and dove to snatch the puck for a critical stop. Just more than two minutes later the Capitals built on the momentum to establish their first lead of the game on a goal by Joel Ward en route to a 4-2 win over the Oilers.
“The guy threw it on net and I actually thought I put it in a good space but it was the only place where [Perron] was open,” Holtby said. “I just tried to get over there as quick as I could. It’s the type of save I hadn’t been making in the last few games to try and keep the game at 1-1 at that point. That’s my job. That’s my job to make those saves.”
Said Coach Adam Oates: “It was huge you could feel it on the bench, guys screamed. It was huge for us.”
Holtby finished with 28 saves and earned his first win in his fifth start of the season. It was an important win for the Capitals overall, but it was particularly encouraging to see Holtby make some of those timely stops that hadn’t been as frequent in his earlier appearances.
During the first two weeks of the season, Holtby went so far as to apologize to his teammates for some of the goals he allowed. They appreciate that, but know they can do a better job of limiting how heroic he has to be on a nightly basis.
“He felt in instances he thought he maybe should have had a save and he didn’t make it. He’s a good goalie and we’ve got to cut down on the shots against,” Troy Brouwer said. “We want to try and cut them down as much as possible for him. We gave up a few too many good opportunities against him where the game could have changed if he wasn’t there to make those saves, but he was.”
Five thoughts on the win to follow Tuesday morning.