Braden Holtby may not own the Bruins, but he sure plays like he does

Matt Kalman
January 10, 2019 - 11:56 pm

Once upon a time Pedro Martinez said you should call the New York Yankees his daddy.

The Bruins could say the same thing about Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby.

The netminder went into the game Thursday with a .943 save percentage and 1.84 goals-against average before he improved to 16-2-0 while making 39 saves on 41 shots in a 4-2 Capitals win at TD Garden.

Holtby has won 12 straight against the Bruins during the Capitals’ 14-game winning streak that dates back to 2014.

Asked if he “feels like he owns the Bruins,” the stone-faced, monotone-voiced Holtby shook his head and let out half a chuckle before declining to stake any claim to the Causeway Street-based organization.

“We played pretty good hockey against them. You know I think we’ve had success against them but they’ve always been good games,” Holtby said. “Just one of those things that seems to just happen, but they’re a fun team to play against, they work hard, they battle especially in the tough areas. That might be why we’re so engaged in the game when we play them, because they play a hard style of hockey every game.”

His teammates are engaged in the battle, like Tom Wilson and Chris Wagner exchanging open-ice hits, and Lars Eller trying to throw down with Brad Marchand. But Holtby is relegated to his crease. Still he admitted he might be extra prepared for the challenge when he sees black and gold sweaters flying around in front of him.

“I mean they make it hard on you with traffic and those type of things,” he said. “Speed, physical game … 82-game schedule, sometimes it’s tough to get a game like that. Sometimes it’s a little more softer style of hockey, just the way it is. But I find whenever we play Boston, it’s just the history or anything, they’re always hard-fought games.”

While Holtby was at his best, allowing just a Ryan Donato goal on a perfect shot from the right circle and a David Krejci power-play goal that may have been tipped out high by a teammate, Jaroslav Halak had a more difficult time with less work for Boston.

Halak, making his first start in three games, allowed three goals on 21 shots. The game-winning goal by Nicklas Backstrom with 5:46 gone in the third period, after the Bruins had tied the game at 2-2 1:09 earlier, was particularly painful because it seemed so stoppable.

“It went in,” Halak said. “You know, it was just one of the shots, top of the circle kind of low glove. So like I said, I just need to make a save on that one and it could have been still 2-2, and we would still be in the game. From that point on they just had it and they got another one [an empty-net goal]. So tough sequence, but like I said, you know just need to be better I guess. The next game I get a chance and hopefully down the road I can help the guys.”

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