NEW YORK -- The Washington Capitals lost to the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, but the 3-2 game would have been over quickly if not for Washington goalie Braden Holtby.
Holtby made 32 saves, including 13 in the first period when the Rangers had 15 shots on goal and 28 shot attempts.
"He was really good," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "Holtby kept us in the first [period]. We weren't good. We weren't winning any races."
Holtby allowed a goal to Rangers forward Chris Kreider 38 seconds into the game. A deflected puck hit Holtby's blocker and went to forward Derek Stepan. Kreider converted a rebound off a shot by Jesper Fast.
"It was just a weird dump in," Holtby said. "It got deflected. Didn't want it bouncing on net. I tried to play it but it ends up in the net."
The second Rangers goal of the first period was on a power play by defenseman Brian Boyle, which went through traffic to beat Holtby with forward Rick Nash setting a screen.
"Nash made a phenomenal play staying in there and moving at the very last second," Holtby said. "Sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due."
In the second and third periods, Holtby allowed one goal on 20 shots. The eventual game-winner came after Capitals forward Jay Beagle and defenseman Brooks Orpik each failed to get the puck, leaving Brassard, who had come out of the penalty box, alone in front.
"This was probably a step down from Game 1, so we're going to have to make sure we bring our level a lot up," Holtby said.
"It's a best-of-5 series now. We will have to really dig deep because our game today wasn't nearly good enough."
The Capitals have won the game after each of three losses this postseason and expect that trend to continue in Game 3 in Washington on Monday (7:30 p.m.; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
"We have a group that always comes back [from] losses with good performances, and that's what we're going to be called upon to do again [on Monday]," Holtby said.
Holtby is 4-4 with a 1.72 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He missed Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the New York Islanders because he was ill.
"He's grown as a goaltender," Trotz said. "You saw that, and he will continue to grow. He's just entering his prime of his career. A lot of good things he learned this year and will continue to learn."