Braden Holtby continues to prove, game-in-game-out that he is an elite goaltender. His 19 save shutout led the Washington Capitals over the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0 in Game 1 on Thursday night at the Verizon Center.
Holtby didn’t see a lot of work after the first period, although he faced eight shots in the final two, he said he didn’t have trouble concentrating on the rest of the game.
“You’re just focused on stopping that next puck,” Holtby said. “That’s a mindset I’ve taken, and hopefully I can keep growing it.”
Holtby’s third NHL playoff shutout helped the Capitals take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series. Game 2 is at Verizon Center on Saturday (7 p.m. ET)
“He’s been great all year,” Capitals forward Jay Beagle said. “He’s been standing on his head, winning us games and stealing us games. With a bunch of PKs, you have to rely on the goaltender quite a bit. He obviously stood on his head again tonight. We had momentum coming (out of) the first.”
John Carlson scored a power-play goal at 16:21 of the second period. His slap shot from the point was deflected in by Flyers forward Chris VandeVelde in front of goalie Steve Mason. It was Carlson’s seventh NHL playoff goal.
Beagle scored with 3:24 remaining in the game, a few seconds after Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere’s interference penalty expired, to make it 2-0. Marcus Johansson stole the puck from Flyers forward Jakub Voracek, skated into the zone and passed to Beagle, who scored from the slot.
“Going into the series, we really hadn’t played an emotional game for quite a while,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “I figured that the first period would be real key for us to start to get our legs under us. I thought as the game went on we got better and better.”
Mason made 29 saves for Philadelphia.
“It would have been nice to be able to capitalize, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be a long series,” Mason said. “I think we can put this one behind us, forget about it, and get ready for Game 2 here.”
The first period was scoreless after the Flyers failed on three power-play opportunities. Washington trailed in shots on goal 11-8 but led in hits 17-10.
“The key to the win was the PK in the first period,” Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom said. “If they score there, it’s a totally different game. But we kept it together and then we started playing better 5-on-5 too. That’s the way we have to do it this series.”
The trend of penalties and power plays continued in the third period, with the Flyers giving the Capitals three power plays. Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds was assessed two minutes for roughing and five minutes for fighting Capitals forward Tom Wilson at 13:09. Wilson got two minutes for boarding Simmonds and five for fighting.
Flyers forward Sean Couturier left after a collision with Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin in the second period and did not return. He sustained an upper-body injury and will be re-evaluated Friday.