Saturday, March 26, 2011

Holtby Stays Hot

Capitals 2, Canadiens 0
Game Summary

When Marco Sturm put in a rebound past Carey Price, no one would have known that is all it would take for the Washington Capitals to outlast the Montreal Canadiens 2-0.

The goaltending duel between Braden Holtby, called up from Hershey as Michal Neuvirth was feeling under the weather and Semyon Varlamov had played the night before in Ottawa, and Carey Price would keep the scoring tight all game. The Caps would get the game winner just 84 seconds into the game.

Nick Backstrom took a shot on Price and the rebound bounced right to Sturm's stick. He slipped it past a sprawling Habs' goaltender to get his fifth goal of the season, his first as a Capital. Backstrom had a fantastic night pressing the offensive effort with a pair of assists and seven shots, a career high in shots for him.

That would be the only goal that Holtby would need. He eased into the game facing only 3 shots in the first period. A testament to the Caps new and constantly improving defensive scheme. After that the Habs' offensive fore-check started up and Holtby answered the call. His ability to suck in shots and not allow rebounds, especially on the power play. The local media only gave him the game's number 2 star, but he was far more deserving of the game's first star than Price.

The second goal would not come until late in the third period as the Habs were pressing the play. Sturm pressed the puck passed the Hab defender at the blue line, and it broke into a two on one for Backstrom and Alex Semin. Backstrom's quick pass set up Semin's roof shot over Price to ice the game for good for the Caps.

While the Caps come away with a good defensive win, there were still break downs in their end. They were able to keep their penalties down to three, but they were at critical junctions in the game as the Caps held on to a one goal lead.

The power play also struggled with out Alex Ovechkin on the point. At times it looked disjointed and often selfish. Semin would come down the ice on his own to try to score. Eric Fehr was used on the point, but it didn't seem to work causing Bruce Boudreau to change up lines on the PP.

The Capitals finish their six game road trip with 4 wins, 8 points. They were shut out once and had a pair of shut outs (Neuvirth against the Devils, Holtby against the Habs). The Caps still remain a game behind the Flyers for first in the Eastern Conference and tied with the Penguins. They have also clinched a playoff spot during that road stretch.

They return home to face a Carolina Hurricanes team that is fighting for a playoff spot. It should be a very interesting game, one that might have a playoff feel to it as it's important for the 'Canes to keep picking up 2 points. The 'Canes also play the Caps tough and this divisional rival game will be an important one for both teams.

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