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Capitals goalie Holtby plays well in return from illness

by David Satriano / NHL.com

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby made 40 saves in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the New York Islanders, but it wasn't enough Sunday in a 2-1 overtime loss at Nassau Coliseum.

Holtby didn't play Friday in Game 2 because of an illness, and his status before the game Sunday was unclear. Holtby got the start and was tested early and often, making 16 saves in the first period and 17 in the second.

"That's my job, to stop the puck," Holtby said. "The fact that we were able to hold them [scoreless in the first period] and give ourselves a chance [was important].

"That's all you really want to do on the road, in the first period, is to come out at least tied and we did that. Just didn't push enough for the last two periods."

Philipp Grubauer made 18 saves in a 4-3 win for the Capitals in Game 2, but Holtby, who started an NHL-high 73 regular-season games, felt better Sunday.

"He was really good," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "He was square to the puck. They were putting puck from everywhere. He responded really well. Looked good, looked sharp."

Many of his teammates said he was the reason the game was so close.

"Unbelievable," Capitals forward Joel Ward said. "[Holtby] has been beast mode all year, so that's expected. He played a heck of a game. Too bad we couldn't reward him."

Forward Nicklas Backstrom agreed.

"I think we were actually lucky tonight that Holtby gave us a chance to win," he said. "[The Islanders] came at us hard, and I feel like we have to be better if we want to have a chance to win next game."

The Islanders attempted 76 shots: 42 made it on goal, 24 were blocked and 10 missed the net. Washington had 57 shot attempts.

Despite the loss, Holtby expects the Capitals to rebound Tuesday in Game 4.

"They played well. They were more prepared from the start than us," Holtby said. "It doesn't matter who needs to step up we always have guys who are going to step up and I think we are going to have more guys that are going to want to do that."

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