The Washington Capitals were looking to go into the Olympic break on a good note against a familiar foe in the New Jersey Devils. They did just that with a 3-0 victory. The score is misleading, as this game was very close until the final two minutes. Both goalies were outstanding in net, as Braden Holtby and Cory Schneider both brought their A-game. Holtby was just a little bit better, as he recorded his third shutout of the season. Holtby stopped all of the 25 shots that he faced and was especially strong while the Capitals were short-handed. He gave the Devils nothing to work with.
Saturday was a night of firsts for the Capitals. Julien Brouillette scored his first NHL goal one game after notching his first NHL assist. Patrick Wey got an assist on Brouillette’s goal, which was his second career point. Both Brouillette and Wey have two career NHL points, and they’ve gotten their four combined points on two plays. They both had an assist for Tom Wilson‘s goal against the Winnipeg Jets. Brouillette’s goal was the game winning goal, so that makes him the first Capital since Dmitry Orlov to have his first NHL goal be a game winning goal. Here’s his post-game interview, courtesy of Monumental Sports:
Brouillette’s goal was not the only first of the evening. Martin Erat scored his first goal of the season, an empty netter with 1:47 remaining in the third period. Though Erat has had a very frustrating season for the Capitals, it’s great to see that he’s still working as hard as he does. Troy Brouwer added a third goal, another empty netter, for insurance with 1:11 remaining in the third period. Brouwer’s goal was his 14th of the season, his third goal in two games, and the 100th goal of his career.
My three stars of the game:
1. Braden Holtby. Holtby was outstanding, especially in the first period. Most of the first period was played in his end of the ice, as Holtby faced 11 shots on goal. He made some outstanding saves and was the best player on the ice for either team.
2. Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom had a very good night, getting two assists and he was the best player not between the pipes on either team.
3. Cory Schneider. I’d love to give this to Erat or Brouillette, but I have to tip my hat to Cory. Schneider had an excellent night in goal for the Devils. He saved 23 of 24 shots on goal, but that doesn’t tell you how difficult some of those saves were.
The Capitals are now off until February 27th, when they travel to Florida to take on the Florida Panthers.