AP Photo/Alex Brandon
During Game 2 on Saturday night at the Verizon Center, the Flyers came out hard and fast – ready to go the distance after their Game 1 defeat by the Capitals last Thursday night. In fact, the Flyers held the Capitals to a mere five shots during the first period while they hammered off 19 at goalie Braden Holtby – the total number of shots that the Flyers took in all of Game 1 and yet, they only scored a single goal. “Holts was good, he was outstanding tonight” said coach Barry Trotz.
While Holtby made the key saves throughout the contest his biggest triumph came in the first period when John Carlson and Jason Chimera incurred cross checking penalties within moments of each other giving the Flyers first a 5 on 4 then 5 on 3 advantage. While the penalty kill team was on its game, it was Holtby who was the real hero.
“He’s unbelievable,” Washington forward Marcus Johansson said. “He’s making saves all over the place, and sometimes you’re just shocked when he gets to stop the puck. He’s so good. He’s such an unbelievable goalie for us, and he wins games every week and he’s done it all year. He was a huge part in this one.”
While many fans nervously looked on during that 5 on 3 penalty kill, Holtby, as usual, was cool, calm and collected. “I’m kind of strange that way,” said Holtby. “I feel more comfortable on a 5 on 3 than a 4 on 3, it just seems the set-up is more for a lot of close one timers on the 4 on 3 and that was a big kill for us because that was a crucial point in the game.”
After the first period, the shots on goal did even out, at least somewhat; however, the Flyers outshot the Capitals almost two to one over the three periods.
“I thought we locked it down a little bit better in the third but they were a desperate team,” said defenseman Matt Niskanen. “They were trying just about everything to get going. They shot a lot of pucks from crazy angles had people going there they tried to win those battles near the blue paint and Holts had to stand tall.”
Holtby, a frontrunner for the Vezina trophy, has allowed only one goal or less in his last 11 playoff games. He will truly be a key component to any successes that the Capitals experience during their race for the 2016 Stanley Cup.
By Stephanie Judge