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NHL Awards

Capitals goalie Holtby wins Vezina in landslide

Receives 26 of 30 first-place votes from NHL general managers

by Shawn P. Roarke @SRoarke_NHL / Director of Editorial

LAS VEGAS -- An unforgettable season for Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby concluded Wednesday with him winning the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goalie.

"It's pretty special; friends and family are here with me and you get to do something you never know if you will get to do again," Holtby said after the 2016 NHL Awards at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Everything about the 2015-16 season was special for Holtby, except for the way it ended for Washington.

Holtby said he believes the Capitals could have gone further than the Eastern Conference Second Round after a Presidents' Trophy-winning season if they hadn't run into a team hitting its peak at the perfect time, as evidenced by the fact that the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup a little less than a month after advancing past Washington.

Video: Braden Holtby is awarded the Vezina Trophy

That disappointment, though, can't take away from some of Holtby's individual accomplishments.

Holtby won 48 games, tying Martin Brodeur for most victories by a goalie in a single NHL season. It took Holtby 66 games to match Brodeur, who played 78 for the New Jersey Devils in his record-setting 2006-07 season.

"What he did this year was outstanding," said Washington coach Barry Trotz, who won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's best coach. "I don't know if it is ever going to be done again.

"You look at how long Marty's record has stood and Braden did that in [12] games less, and that is pretty exceptional. If Braden would have played that, even at the .500 level, that record would have stood for a long, long time."

But Holtby did not play more games because Trotz wanted to keep him fresh for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite wanting to play more games, Holtby accepted his coach's decision and soldiered on.

"I'm not a big guy on awards or records, but the wins record and being able to share it as a team and the commitment it took from everyone [is special]," Holtby said.

Video: Braden Holtby Reacts to winning Vezina

It also was special that Holtby won the Vezina in a landslide. Twenty-six of the League's 30 general managers had Holtby first on the ballot. His 140 voting points put him 89 ahead of runner-up Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"To me, he was the best goalie in the NHL with what he did night in and night out," Trotz said. "I would be extremely disappointed in everybody that voted on that if he didn't get it."

Holtby, 26, had a 2.20 goals-against average, which was fifth-best among goalies with 40 or more appearances this season, and a .922 save percentage, seventh among goalies with 40 or more appearances.

"He was the backbone to our hockey team this year," Trotz said. "You don't win as many hockey games as we did without exceptional goaltending. Those nights when we were not as good as we could be, Braden was the difference-maker."

Now, the questions turn to the future. Can Holtby top what he did in 2015-16? Can he surpass 48 wins?

He said he plans to be better, but he insists he won't think about targeting the record he now shares with Brodeur until he gets close to it again.

"My goal is to win every game," Holtby said. "But I don't know if setting that as a goal is a benefit to [playing] consistent. I think you might be overthinking stuff that way, and you have to have so many things go right: Your team has to stay healthy, you have to have the personnel, especially in the salary-cap era.

"I don't think it is ever a goal we set at the start of the season, but I believe with my team in Washington and if we keep improving, we could try to get there again."

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