WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals don't need goalie Braden Holtby to be great all the time, just when it really matters.
He was in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, making 30 saves in a season-saving 3-1 win at Verizon Center on Saturday.
Washington trails the best-of-7 series 3-2 with Game 6 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN).
Holtby made three saves in a span of seconds that were crucial to protecting Washington's 3-1 second-period lead. He said he wasn't happy with how he played Patric Hornqvist's overtime goal against him in Game 4, so he'd been working to improve on some areas.
"I wanted to make a difference for our team, show that I would rebound just like all of us," Holtby said. "Some nights you can make those saves."
It started with a pad save on Hornqvist. Penguins center Matt Cullen worked his way behind the net and fed Hornqvist, who was streaking down the slot. Holtby denied him with a kick save off his right pad to protect the two-goal lead at 16:08.
Video: PIT@WSH, Gm5: Holtby stones Hornqvist with pad save
"That's why he's the best goalie in the League," Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. "We knew it's out there and he's going to make a save and he's going to keep us in the game. It's kind of a situation when we need him and he needs us. We believe in each other and we trust each other."
Justin Schultz was similarly denied 14 seconds later when he tried to lift a wrist shot past Holtby. Cullen again made the pass, and Schultz waited until he thought he had Holtby beat, but the goaltender stayed tight to the post and easily captured Schultz's shot with his glove. A Cullen backhand was stopped two seconds later.
"We addressed that after the game," Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said of the succession of saves. "That was just insane. We don't want to give them chances like that -- quick little breakdowns -- but I mean, that's kind of how this team is built. We're pretty deep. We rely on our goalie to make some saves and he did exactly what we needed there."
Video: PIT@WSH, Gm5: Holtby robs Schultz with the glove