ANAHEIM, Calif. – There were multiple times Tuesday night, 43 in fact, where the difference between a surging Ducks squad and the Washington Capitals preserving a lead or tie was Jaroslav Halak.
The veteran netminder has played well since the Capitals acquired him at the trade deadline on March 5. But Tuesday, in his sixth consecutive start, Halak made saves both routine and improbable to help secure a 3-2 win in Anaheim.
“He certainly knows what he’s doing and he’s been huge for us so far,” defenseman John Carlson said. “Can’t complain with that.”
In six games with Washington, Halak is now 4-2 with a .931 save percentage and 2.36 goals-against average having allowed 14 goals on the 202 shots he’s faced easing concerns about how he would fare with a team less stingy than the St. Louis Blues. While goaltending may not have been the Capitals’ greatest concern heading into the deadline – that would be the defense – Halak’s ability to withstand barrages has helped mask some of those concerns in recent games.
Against the Ducks, he made a flashy glove save on Mathieu Perreault at 9:25 of the first to keep the game tied at one and during the various penalty kills he handled traffic and an aggressive net-front presence with minimal scrambling.
“You never want to give up a 5-on-3 but I’m happy we were able to kill them,” said Halak, who recorded a season-high 43 saves. “It was a big period for us, big few kills we had there.”
Said Carlson: “Jaro played great all game but certainly battled hard in front of the net. Corey Perry’s great in front of the net — he scores probably 80 percent of his goals from there — he knows what he’s doing and Jaro stood in.”
At this point, there’s no reason to believe Coach Adam Oates won’t continue to roll with Halak as long as he plays well as the Capitals continue to pursue a playoff berth.
Here’s that save on Perrault.