That's because Holtby will prove to be the key to any postseason success the Capitals will have over the next few weeks. Ultimately, the Caps bounced back with a double-overtime win in Game 3 and never looked back, ripping off four straight against the Jackets and clinching Game 6 on the road.
It would be an easy statement to say that both Holtby and Bobrovsky were their teams best performers throughout the six games of this series. The first game will be played in Washington. But Holtby was good enough.
"Probably the biggest thing was getting [over] that confidence hump of not having him there, not having his presence there in games, in the room, in practice", DeBoer told reporters of dealing with Thornton's absence. "You look at Braden, his body of work in the four games was tremendous".
Alex Ovechkin scored twice, including his 50th playoff goal, and Braden Holtby had 35 saves to lift the Capitals, who did not trail after winning in overtime in Game 5 on Saturday. You're gonna sometimes let some bad goals in or some goals you think you might have. Come playoff time that is when those players show up. To ensure "an unbelievable atmosphere" at Capital One Arena, the Capitals are forbidding the pre-sale tickets to be resold.
Then "Alexander the Great" got going. It's his track record. I got lucky, you know? In four tries, Holtby has failed to close the door. "That surprised me a little bit how well, how good it is this city loves the Blue Jackets".
The Blue Jackets had just pulled to 3-2 early in the third period, and the long-suffering faithful in Nationwide Arena were up on their feet waving white shirts, chanting "CBJ! CBJ!" He had eight points (5 G, 3 A) and 34 shots on goal in the series.
Ovechkin put back a rebound of a shot by Brooks Orpik to make it 2-1 with 7:10 left in the second, the 50th playoff goal of the Russian star's career.
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"I think going into the year there wasn't a lot of people who said we would finish first in the Metro, and we did that", Trotz said.
"I'm so proud to lead this team, but I just want to see something good happen for our team", said captain Nick Foligno, who scored two goals on Monday.
He keeps scoring three-foot backhanded goals like he did Monday night against Columbus, Ovechkin will have done his part.
Naturally, Blue Jackets fans were not very happy with Monday's proceedings.
Fortunately for head coach Peter DeBoer, San Jose's top line of Joe Pavelski, Evander Kane and Joonas Donskoi helped offset Thornton's absence by combining for 12 points in the series sweep of the Ducks.
Capitals' Carlson a playoff player?
The Capitals' 6-3, first round series-clinching win at Columbus on Monday night was the team's fourth straight since digging a 2-0 hole with a pair of overtime losses at home, and the sixth consecutive combined playoff win by D.C.'s National Hockey League and NBA teams. They've beaten all of them. And there was at least one of them who thought the officiating was to blame. It is what is often asked of goaltenders in the playoffs - to go beyond what they've accomplished, to change history, to do something that they haven't done before. After Pittsburgh opened the series with a 7-0 drubbing of the Flyers, Philadelphia responded in fine fashion.