Beninati: All Hail Holtby!

Beninati: All Hail Holtby!
March 28, 2011, 10:46 pm
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Sunday, March 27, 2011 1:51 a.m.

By Joe Beninati
Capitals Play by

So the most obvious question has to be, how do you send him back? Braden Holtby was not over-worked by any stretch, but he looked supremely confident in making 18 saves to blank the Canadiens.

It was a crazy 24 hours for him. Last night, he learned he was going to be recalled from the AHL prior to his game against the Adirondack Phantoms. So he backed up for Hershey in Glens Falls, N.Y., jumped in a car, and made the three-hour drive to Montreal.

After coming down ill yesterday, Michal Neuvirth was held out of the game tonight. Semyon Varlamov backed up for Holtby, who looked super comfortable in front of 21,000-plus at Bell Centre. Bruce Boudreau did not want to over-extend Varlamov on back-to-back nights so soon after a lengthy stay on the injured list.

The Caps built an early lead for him to protect. Nicklas Backstrom broke loose from a defender on a 2-on-1 break with Marco Sturm, and ripped a shot that Carey Price stopped but could not control the rebound. The bouncing puck landed right in front of Sturm who wasted no time tallying his first goal as a Cap just 84 seconds into the game.

After that, the Capitals put a lot of pressure on Price, but did not improve their lead. They were given three power plays in the opening frame and failed to convert any of them.
The Canadiens mustered just three shots in the first 20 minutes, and that allowed Holtby to get into a comfort zone.

Bradens best stop may have been the one he made on Jeff Halpern in the second period. The former Capital captain had a really good look at a snapshot from 25 feet out that was labeled for the far corner, but Holtby kicked it away in a heartbeat.

For the longest time it appeared as if the Caps would be involved in their fourth 1-0 game of the season. After a couple of critical penalty-killing sequences put them in good shape late in regulation, Backstrom and Alex Semin would make sure Washington would come home a winner.

Backstrom zipped a cross-ice pass to Semin who was streaking toward the goalpost. Semin roofed a point-blank shot over the glove of Price and a 2-0 lead would prove to be insurmountable.

Earlier this morning Bruce Boudreau had a hunch that Sturm, Backstrom and Semin would work well together and he couldnt have been more correct, as that line produced six points, two apiece.

So the Caps wound up winning four games on the six-game road trip. They can almost see the finish line to another Southeast Division title. And it definitely looks like they have three very talented young goalies from which to choose for their playoff run.

Washington is next in action Tuesday against division-rival Carolina. It will be great to be home at Verizon!