Washington, DC-With the Washington Capitals leading the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in the third period, Braden Holtby was trying to gather the puck just outside his crease in front of the net, but it slipped free and was shot past him. However, the officials blew the play dead believing the 21-year old goalie had covered it up.
Sometime even the hottest goalies need a little luck and Holtby received some at the right time as the Capitals held on for another one goal victory.
Holtby more than made up for his gaffe with a 40-save gem, allowing just one goal in another stellar performance in front of the Verizon faithful.
Alex Ovechkin brought the Caps to life 47 seconds into the third period with a laser from the blue line, but the goal wouldn't have mattered if Holtby wasn't rock solid once again.
Holtby has given up one goal in last 165:00, but he credited his defense for some of his success against the Hurricanes.
"It was more of a goalies type game," he said. "You were going to face action all night and our guys did a great job not making that action very difficult. [There were] a lot of saves that were pretty routine and all I had to do was set them up for my teammates."
The youngest of the Capitals net-minding trio, Holtby has adjusted well to the NHL and has done so in a mere 11 games. He rebounded from a dismal showing in a shootout against the Rangers by stopping all three shots in a shootout against Tampa Bay last week. Friday night he showed composure in the crease while facing a barrage of rubber.
"I think just with my teammates knowing that they have a bit more confidence in me that's the biggest thing as a goalie," he said. "You want to know you're teammates have confidence in giving you the shot and playing their position instead of trying to do too much and that's basically the thing that's made it easier."
It's not certain whether he'll end up with the team in the postseason, but Holtby's recent string of wins indicates the Capitals can trust him should Semyon Varlamov or Michal Neuvirth succumb to the injury bug that has plagued them all season.
On the other side of the ice, Carolina goaltender Cam Ward stopped Jason Arnott's breakaway bid in the third period, but Matt Hendricks was trailing the play and scored on the rebound to break a 1-1 tie.
"That's what he does," said Bruce Boudreau of Hendricks. "He's going to get those dirty goals in the crease. He's not going to get the end-to-end goals .... I'm happy for him because he works really hard all the time so he deserves some success offensively every now and again."
Ovechkin's goal extended his point streak to seven games. He has steadily improved down the stretch and appears poised to emerge once again as the focal point of the offense.
The Capitals have won seven straight heading into a marquee matchup with the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. With the win Friday, they maintain their number two seeding in the Eastern Conference playoff race.