The Washington Capitals had quite the night against their former netminder Braden Holtby and ultimately spoiled his revenge game as Dallas coach Rick Bowness pulled Holtby in favor of Jake Oettinger to open the third period of Friday’s game.
Holtby surrendered five goals through the first 36:50 minutes of play and ultimately finished the night with 22 saves on 27 shots (.815 save percentage).
The 32-year-old had a rough start, surrendering two power-play goals from Tom Wilson and John Carlson on early PP opportunities. Later in the frame, he gave up a Trevor van Riemsdyk goal that was hard to catch due to a lot of traffic in front. He then let in two goals from Connor McMichael and Nicklas Backstrom after misreading two different plays. On McMichael’s goal, he was tracking Lars Eller instead of McMichael, who scored on a slam-dunk pass. Then, on Backstrom’s tally, it appeared No. 70 was suspecting a pass rather than a shot, and Backstrom capitalized.
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Backstrom has three points on the night, and McMichael and Evgeny Kuznetsov also have multi-point performances. It’s a much-needed change of pace for the Capitals, who have been struggling to find scoring at 5-on-5 and on the power play over the month of January. However, it’s bittersweet, as it comes against a former teammate that left quite the mark on D.C.
“He was the main reason why we’ve been successful for long time… he was unbelievable, and we play unbelievable for him and he’s great person,” Evgeny Kuznetsov said of Holtby. “When you say, ‘Braden Holtby,’ that save always like a picture in your eyes, right? It’ll be in my memory forever for sure. He’s good teammate and I’m happy for him that he’s still playing hockey and I hope he’s enjoy it every day.”
Holtby was coming off a strong start on Tuesday against New Jersey, where he stopped 36 of 37 shots (.973 save percentage). In 21 games with the Stars this season, he has boasted a .917 save percentage and 2.60 GAA.