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Capitals goalie Holtby won't jinx 21-game streak

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- It was obvious after the Washington Capitals' 4-3 overtime win against the New York Rangers on Saturday that goalie Braden Holtby doesn't want to jinx himself by talking about a streak that has reached 21 decisions and two months.

Holtby, who made 23 saves to win for the 27th time in 34 games this season, has not had a regulation loss since Nov. 10, a 1-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. He is 19-0-2 with two shutouts, a 1.89 goals-against average and .937 save percentage in 22 starts since his last regulation loss.

Holtby is the fourth goalie in the past 20 seasons to earn at least one point for his team in as many as 21 consecutive decisions, joining Chris Osgood (1995-96, 19-0-2), Jose Theodore (2009-10, 20-0-3) and Roberto Luongo (2010-11, 16-0-5). Theodore also did it for the Capitals.

Braden Holtby
Braden Holtby
Goalie - WSH
RECORD: 27-4-2
GAA: 1.93 | SVP: .932
But when asked about his streak, Holtby got a little fidgety, said "I don't know" a few times and shrugged his shoulders. He also laughed when it was pointed out to him that he is not fooling anybody about what might be a superstition of his.

"I don't know," Holtby said. "I mean, the only statistic I really care about is wins, so it is nice. It shows our team is doing the right things, but as a goalie you can't go on that streak without a team that's bailing you out."

Holtby got bailed out Saturday, when center Nicklas Backstrom scored a game-tying goal with 5.7 seconds left in the third period. The Capitals had a 2-0 lead going into the third, but Holtby allowed three goals on seven shots.

He also quickly pointed out that he got bailed out by backup Philipp Grubauer on Dec. 18, when Holtby allowed three goals on 12 shots against the Tampa Bay Lightning before he was pulled with 11:03 to play in the second period. Grubauer made seven saves and Washington won 5-3.

They were minor blips in what has otherwise been a first half worthy of being a frontrunner for the Vezina Trophy.

Holtby leads the NHL in wins (27) and is first in save percentage (.932) and goals-against average (1.93) among goalies with at least 20 appearances.

"It's just impressive," Backstrom said. "He was really good last year, but he's been taking even more steps this season. I mean, he developed a lot. He's calm back there. He gives us confidence as a team and that helps a lot."


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