For the first eighty minutes of the game, it was close to deja vu for Braden Holtby. Another playoff game against the Boston Bruins where he stands on his head and stops almost everything in sight, but this time the Capitals come out on top with a 2-1 double overtime win thanks to a Nicklas Backstrom blast just 2:56 into the second overtime to send the series back to DC all even at one game a piece.
“I don’t want to say anything, but he is playing great right now,” Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin said on Holtby.
Great could be an understatement as the rookie Holtby has stopped 72 of the first 74 shots he’s seen in his NHL playoff career, including 43, 14 during the overtime periods, in the game two victory.
“Wasn’t as tired [as game one],” Holtby said. “Mentally I just wanted to keep calm to get save by save and just go from there.”
It wasn’t just him blocking shots, the Caps as a unit blocked 27 shots led by Karl Alzner with five and Roman Hamrlik with four. Also the Caps brought even more hitting to the ice in game two, out hitting the Bruins 41-36.
“I thought we played a complete game,” Capitals Forward Troy Brouwer, who led the team with six hits, said. “We played great defensively the last two games. We were patient. We kept pucks in good areas. We didn’t turn pucks over and that’s why we’ve been able to tie up the series”
Brouwer is right, as the Caps, who only had 17 shots on goal in the first game, had 39 tonight. Also Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and Alexander Semin, who combined for two shots on goal in the first game, had a combined 12 shots tonight. Also the Caps talked about taking closer shots, getting traffic in front of Bruins goalie Tim Thomas and going to the net. Well they did it that all tonight.
Troy Brouwer got the Caps on the board first when late in the second period he followed up an Alex Ovechkin shot and while crashing the net kind of knocked the puck under Tim Thomas and in to give the Caps their first goal and lead of the series. For Thomas, that’s his first playoff goal he’s given up in his last 161:41 of playoff ice time, which includes last year’s Stanley Cup run.
In the third period the Caps didn’t stay back, they attacked and out shot the Bruins 13-8 in the frame, but just after the midway point in the period Benoit Pouliot had a lane and Holtby tried to poke check the puck away from him, but Pouliot got just enough of the puck to get it over Holtby and in to even the score and get all the Bruins faithful on their feet.
The first overtime the Bruins out shot the Caps 11-8, but play was pretty even. In the second period it looked a lot like the same until Marcus Johansson made a pretty pass right to Nicklas Backstrom who was right in front, with traffic in the crease, and he fired it by Thomas for the game winner.
“I got a great pass from Marcus there. I was just trying to get it on net. I think the puck was wobbling a little bit,” Backstrom said. “It was nice to see it go in because I was kind of tired there.”
Marcus Johansson was on the third line for game one, but Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter switched him and Jason Chimera before the game.
“Nicky [Backstrom] and Jo Jo [Johansson] know each other, being Swedish and stuff, pretty good,” Hunter said. “Just give them a different look.”
The Caps now have all the momentum on their side as they head home for games three and four all tied up. Game three is at 7:30pm on Monday at Verizon Center.
“Going back to Washington it’s huge against these guys to be able to tie it up,” Brouwer said.
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby, Troy Brouwer & Marcus Johansson had to say following the win.
2nd 17:57 Brouwer (1), Ovechkin (1), Alzner (1)
Double OT 2:56 Backstrom (1), Johansson (1)
Dale Hunter Postgame Audio
Nicklas Backstrom Postgame Audio
Braden Holtby Postgame Audio
Troy Brouwer Postgame Audio
Marcus Johansson Postgame Audio