Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) – Braden Holtby was tremendous between the pipes, making 30 saves for his second career playoff shutout and backstopping the Washington Capitals to a 1-0 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Jay Beagle scored the lone goal for the Capitals, who used a solid defensive effort to bounce back from Saturday’s 3-2 Game 2 loss and take a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven series.
Holtby’s other postseason shutout came against the Rangers on May 4, 2013 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. New York won that series in seven games.
“I felt good,” said Holtby. “I was just trying to do my part and the guys played a really good game in front of me.”
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 21-of-22 shots for the Rangers in his 100th career postseason game.
“Obviously we are disappointed that we didn’t get a better result,” New York head coach Alain Vigneault said. “Their whole team is making defensive plays that are making it tough for us to get some of our great opportunities to the net.”
The series will resume with Game 4 Wednesday at Verizon Center.
After a scoreless first period, Beagle put Washington on the board 7:31 into the middle stanza. He chased down his own rebound behind the net and had his shot from below the goal line deflect off the skates of Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle and Lundqvist before going into the net.
“I was just trying to create havoc,” said Beagle. “I tried to wrap it around and I got a little lucky and it went in.”
With under seven minutes left in the middle stanza, Martin St. Louis blocked a shot in the defensive zone, raced down the ice on a breakaway and fired a shot on Holtby, who calmly made the save to keep the Capitals in front.
The Rangers were buzzing early in the third, outshooting the Capitals 7-2 in the frame’s first six-plus minutes. Their attack intensified with just over seven minutes left in regulation.
After Holtby came up with a huge stop on a scramble in front, Washington’s offense countered and made it a back-and-forth game as Karl Alzner one-timed a shot off the left post from the top of the left circle with 5:13 to play
New York pulled Lundqvist with over a minute remaining and immediately threatened. Derick Brassard fired a shot from the left point and Rick Nash tipped the puck in front, but Holtby snagged the fluttering puck out of the air with 47 seconds left.
Midway through the first, Lundqvist robbed Alex Ovechkin of a power-play goal by slid across the crease to absorb the Washington captain’s one-timer.
Lundqvist came up big on another penalty kill moments later as he got enough of an Ovechkin slap shot with his glove and came up with a shoulder stop after Joel Ward batted the puck out of mid-air.
The Capitals improved to 4-0 following a loss this postseason … New York’s last 10 playoff games have been decided by one goal, an NHL record … Washington has won its last four home games … Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen had a game-high seven blocked shots … Lundqvist became the 17th goaltender in NHL history to play in 100 playoff games … Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky tallied his first career playoff point with an assist on Beagle’s marker … Washington has killed 21-of-22 penalties this postseason.