Zac Boyer will provide you with the latest updates from the Washington Nationals, the Washington Capitals, the Washington Wizards and D.C. United on this blog when in attendance. Follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates.
CAPITALS: Braden Holtby Again Stellar In Net In Game 4 Victory Over Bruins
WASHINGTON – The biggest problem for Braden Holtby on Monday was tracking the puck. If he can’t see where it’s coming from, it stands to reason it can be a long night for a goaltender.
But Holtby, the Washington Capitals’ rookie goalie, had no difficulty with that on Thursday. He stopped 44 shots, helping his team preserve a 2-1 victory over Boston in Game 4 of the teams’ first-round Stanley Cup playoff series at Verizon Center.
The only goal the 22-year-old allowed on the night was one even the best goalies would have trouble with – a two-on-one that bounced off his left leg, underneath him and across the goal line.
“I felt pretty good,” said Holtby, who has now stopped all but seven shots in the series and has a .953 save percentage. “I felt pretty confident that we were gonna have a bounce-back game, and it went well.”
Holtby was impressive through his first two games, stopping 29 of 30 shots in the Capitals’ Game 1 overtime loss and 43 of 44 in the Game 2 double-overtime victory.
He made his fair share of impressive saves Thursday, including coming out of the crease to glove Brad Marchand’s wide-open snapper 4:09 into the second period.
His most important save may have been his last, when he took a short wrister from Patrice Bergeron in the chest and then grabbed it.
“I think the best part about it is he makes a great glove save and drops the puck and leans on his post,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “He makes it look so easy.”
Holtby allowed four goals on 29 shots in the 4-3 loss in Game 3 on Monday. This was different.
“I felt pretty good tonight, but there were still some lucky times and there’s still some improvement to be made,” he said.
Knuble, Erskine Make Presence Known: Mike Knuble and John Erskine, each of whom were healthy scratches for the first three games of the postseason, were both in the lineup.
Knuble, the left wing on the fourth line, played 11:57 and did not take a shot, though he served a two-minute minor for holding – the Capitals’ only penalty of the night.
Erskine, who hadn’t played in 32 of the final 33 regular-season games and missed the last seven because of a lower-body injury, was activated to provide the Capitals with a more rugged, physical look on defense.
“I felt pretty good,” Erskine said. “Took me two shifts to get into it. But as the game went on and the more I played I felt better. I think when I first got out there it’s tough to get the timing right. Like I missed two months, but by the third period I felt good and wanted to throw the body around.”
His first altercation came just 2:45 in, when he and the Bruins’ Shawn Thornton started shoving. It was quickly broken up by officials.
“That’s part of my game,” Erskine said. “I wish I could have got some hits in early, but the way the game was going it wasn’t as physical as I thought it would be and I think as it went on, like I said, with the timing I felt more comfortable.”
Penalty Killers: Washington has gone 12-for-12 on the penalty kill in the series, including stopping all of the first 11 situations they faced and the only one Thursday. It also has stopped 39 of the last 41 power play opportunities dating back to March 16, a span of 15 games, and has gone 21-for-21 in its last eight home games.
“The guys are working and we’re blocking shots,” head coach Dale Hunter said before the game. “We’re aggressive, you know? We’re trying to kill their rebounds when they do get shots.”
1. Be respectful. No personal attacks.
2. Please avoid offensive, vulgar, abusive, hateful or defamatory language.
3. Read and follow THE RULES.
4. Please notify us by flagging posts that are inappropriate.
Posts that include links, and posts from users with unverified e-mail addresses may take longer to appear.