Braden Holtby made 27 saves en route to a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night at Capital One Arena. The win marked his 200th of his NHL career.
Holtby was the second fastest goaltender in NHL history to reach the milestone. Montreal Canadiens’ goaltender Ken Dryden did it in only 311 games, eight fewer games than Holtby.
“Obviously, it’s an honor to be in the same sentence as him,” said Holtby. “But I think with him and me that those teams that we’ve been fortunate to play on helped you get there. That’s just luck in some ways. It’s been a fun time to get to 200 and we move forward now.”
“It’s a cool accomplishment, I guess,” Holtby said about reaching his 200th career win. “But it really doesn’t mean anything in the end. It shows that I’m getting up there in years. That’s about it.”
Holtby has won each of his previous five starts and has a .939 save percentage and a 1.98 goals against average. Overall, he is 9-3-0 in 12 appearances this season with a .924 save percentage and a 2.48 goals against average.
The win ties Holtby for 83rd on the all-time wins list with Steve Mason, currently of the Winnipeg Jets. Ex-Devils goaltender leads the league in that category with 691 wins. Florida Panthers’ goaltender Roberto Luongo is the top active player with 455 wins.
Braden Holtby became the first goalie to win 200 wins in the shootout era since Antti Niemi did it in 356 games. Holtby got his 100th win on April 5, 2015, making 35 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The Capitals clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with that win.
What makes his record this season more impressive is that he has done it with a depleted defense. Matt Niskanen has been out for 11 games and he has gone 6-2-0 in eight games he has played since Niskanen got injured. In addition to Niskanen, the Capitals also lost defensemen Karl Alzner, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Nate Schmidt in the offseason via free agency and the expansion draft respectively. He has had to adjust with rookie defensemen such as Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey, and Aaron Ness learning the ways of the NHL.
“Last year, I thought he had a pretty easy year for most goaltenders,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “The year before, we gave up a lot of shots and a lot of high-quality chances, and I thought he was outstanding. This year, yeah, I think he’s still playing at a high level.
“There’s a reason you get to 200 wins as quick as he has. I think he’s slowly evolving as the game keeps evolving. That’s what makes the elite players elite in this league. He keeps evolving.,” Trotz said.
By Harrison Brown