Thursday night was a busy one for goaltender Braden Holtby. As the Washington Capitals vied for a valuable two points that would allow them to take the Southeast Express from 10th to third in the Eastern Conference standings, they needed quite a few eye-popping saves from their 23-year-old No. 1 netminder.
Going from his right to his left across the goal mouth near the midway point of the second period, Holtby robbed former Capital and Hershey Bears forward Keith Aucoin from point-blank range.
Six minutes later, Frans Nielsen slipped by John Carlson with a toe drag but the puck hit Holtby’s pads and trickled back behind the net, where the Islanders reclaimed it once more. Holtby was trying to get back in position as New York whipped the puck around to Andrew MacDonald in the high slot. MacDonald got the shot off as quickly as possible but it wasn’t fast enough to beat Holtby, who stopped that one too.
“He battles, he never gives up on plays and that just shows his perseverance and the willingness he has to win,” Troy Brouwer said. “And that rubs off on our team because if we see him make a couple of those huge pad saves in the second, one very, very late in the third, those really lift your team. And the guys want to play for him when he’s playing like that.”