WASHINGTON - Although rookie goaltender Braden Holtby had a less than stellar night in Monday’s 4-3 loss to the Bruins, he has the full support of his teammates.
The winning goal, scored with 1 minute and 53 seconds left by Zdeno Chara with the teams skating four a side, deflected off the stick of Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik and Holtby, who faced 29 shots, was powerless to stop it.
“[Holtby’s] played great and the same with their goaltender [Tim Thomas], he’s playing well,’’ said Capitals forward Brooks Laich, whose tied the game, 3-3, at the 14-minute mark of the third period.
“I thought [Holtby] played really good again. He’s a tremendous goalie and I think he takes it upon himself to compete directly against the other guy at the end of the ice. He’s a kid who has a lot of pride, he’s a real battler and I’ve said it before, I see a lot of shades of [former Capitals goalie] Olaf Kolzig in him, the way he competes in the net.’’
They’ll be ready
The Capitals’ dressing room was far from downcast after the loss, which left them trailing in the series, 2-1. Laich said the loss only makes them hungrier to tie the series in Game 4 on Thursday.
“It makes us more motivated, more determined,’’ said Laich. “We knew it was going to be a tough series and we’ve been right in all three games. They’ve been very tight games but we’re right there. We’re going to get some rest, have a good practice and come back ready to play.’’
There was plenty of chippiness during the game, more than in the previous two. Washington had 26 minutes in penalties to 14 for the Bruins. More than half of the Capitals’ penalty minutes came in the third period, with Nicklas Backstrom being assessed a match penalty at the 20:00 minute mark. “It’s competition, it’s the spirit of competition,’’ said Laich. “It’s going to happen. You’re going to give hits and you’re going to take hits. If somebody gets a good lick on you, you’ve got to stay composed. They’ve got a very good power play and a lot of talented players. It’s going to be physical, you’ve just got to be prepared to play it.’’ It certainly appears that familiarity breeds contempt. “Sometimes that comes in the first game and sometimes it takes incidents or moments as the series wears on to develop it,’’ said Laich. “There was more extracurricular stuff after the whistles and we kind of don’t want to get caught up in that. We want to play hard between the whistles but stuff like that is going to happen. You just have to make sure you keep your head about yourself.’’ . . . Alex Ovechkin, who scored at the 48-second mark of the second period, has 53 points in 40 career playoff games. He is tied for sixth with Scott Stevens in points in Capitals’ playoff history. With his 26th playoff goal, he passed Dale Hunter, the Capitals coach, and now ranks second in franchise playoff goals. He trails Peter Bondra by four for the top spot.Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.