Johnson: Capitals Won Because Of Holtby

Braden Holtby posted back-to-back shutouts in Games 6 and 7, leading the Caps to their first Finals since 1998

After Hours with Amy Lawrence
May 24, 2018 - 4:15 pm

USA Today Sports

After a series of postseason letdowns, the Washington Capitals are back in the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in franchise history – and the first time since 1998. 

The Capitals overcame a 3-2 series deficit against Tampa Bay, beating the Lightning 3-0 in Game 6 and 4-0 in Game 7, as Braden Holtby posted his first two shutouts of the season.

“That was the reason they won,” former Capitals goalie and current NBC Sports Washington analyst Brent Johnson said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It is a team effort and it takes an army, but Braden Holtby made the saves when he needed to make them. He mentally asserted himself. He was more competitive, he battled more, he didn’t have any easy saves, and that’s the kind of thing you want to see from Braden Holtby. You want to see it from any goaltender in the NHL – a guy who battles and shows his team that they want to win and they care and they compete for them. He did that in both Game 6 and Game 7. The Caps are going to the Finals because of Braden Holtby’s spectacular performances.”

Washington’s run to the Finals was not without drama. The Capitals fell behind 2-0 in their first-round series against Columbus before winning four straight. They also dropped Game 1 of their second-round series with Pittsburgh before prevailing in six, and they lost three straight against Tampa Bay, almost squandering a 2-0 lead in the process. 

But Washington, as it has all postseason, found a way to win when it mattered most. 

“The last six periods (were) almost perfection,” Johnson said. “We do thumbs up and thumbs down (on our show). There was no thumbs down for the last two games. They were almost perfect in every aspect. They did what they needed to do to get through the Tampa Bay Lightning.”

The Capitals will play the Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Finals. Games 1 is Monday in Las Vegas at 8 p.m. ET.