BOSTON -- Capitals rookie goaltender Braden Holtby slowly is becoming one of the bigger stories early in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs as he again looked unfazed by the spotlight and pressure in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series with the Bruins. Holtby made 43 saves in a 2-1 double overtime win for the Caps that tied the series as it heads back to Washington for Games 3 and 4.
After making 29 saves in his first career playoff start in Game 1 -- a 1-0 overtime loss -- Holtby was even calmer and more poised in Game 2. The rookie's play while thrown into the fire, combined with a teamwide commitment to defense, is why the Capitals have been able to frustrate the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
“Holtby is unbelievable right now,” Capitals forward Marcus Johansson said. “There is nothing you can complain about in his game. The good thing is everybody is doing everything they can to help him stop the puck, and I think when we do that, they don’t get as many great chances as the regular season. I think that’s something you have to do every game in the series.”
Captain Alexander Ovechkin was wary of jinxing his goalie, but had to give credit where it was due.
“I don’t want to say anything, but he is playing great right now,” Ovechkin said. “We just hope he can continue to play how he is playing. In our mentality, this is very important for us. This kid can save us and keep us in the game in overtime.”
The Bruins weren’t about to discredit Holtby’s efforts but they know they need to do a better job of creating traffic and following up on rebounds, something Holtby gave plenty of in Game 2.
“At this stage of the year, you would like to see more net-front traffic, and you would like to see that puck going to the net a little bit more with guys heading in that direction,” coach Claude Julien said. “We don’t have a good enough commitment in that area right now to win hockey games.
"What they can’t see, they can’t stop, and our game plan would be the same against any other team. Right now, it’s just not happening enough, and he’s seeing a lot of pucks. I’m certainly not discrediting him, because he’s played well. He’s made some big saves when he had to, but we certainly haven’t made his life as miserable as much as we can when we’re at the top of our game.”
Because of that lack of traffic, the Bruins are the miserable ones.
“It sucks,” Krejci said bluntly. “You go all the way to the second overtime, and you lose the game. You don’t want to be on the losing side after five periods, but it is what it is. We’re still in the series, it’s 1-1. We’re going to Washington, and we’re just going to try to win the next game.”