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Holtby starts as Capitals seek momentum

by Ben Raby /

ARLINGTON, Va. – Having already clinched the Southeast Division and No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, the goal for the Washington Capitals is to play a clean hockey game against the Boston Bruins on Saturday and build momentum heading into the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Goaltender Braden Holtby will start Washington’s regular-season finale after serving as Michal Neuvirth’s backup in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

"I talked to him, actually, about which game he would rather have, and in terms of rest, what's too much rest, how recent do you want to play," coach Adam Oates said. "I don't think there's any perfect formula. I don't think anybody's ever perfected that, but it makes sense to him to play [against Boston] and if we [open the playoffs] Tuesday or Wednesday, it's kind of a good rhythm because we've almost played every other day this year. It's been that kind of season."

The Capitals are 10-1-1 in April, with Holtby going 8-1-0 over that stretch with a 1.97 goals-against-average and .936 save percentage.

A year ago this week, Holtby emerged as Washington’s No. 1 goalie as the Capitals eliminated the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Washington’s goal in the regular-season finale is far more modest.

"We need to try to get some confidence against teams that we may have to face in the playoffs, especially if we want to go deep into the playoffs," Capitals forward Troy Brouwer said. "We’ve beaten [Boston] once in overtime [this season], so hopefully we can have a good effort and gain some momentum because you never want to go into the playoffs dropping two in a row."

Here is the rest of Washington’s projected lineup:

Marcus JohanssonNicklas BackstromAlex Ovechkin

Martin EratMike RibeiroTroy Brouwer

Jason ChimeraMathieu PerreaultEric Fehr

Aaron VolpattiJay BeagleMatt Hendricks

Karl AlznerMike Green

Jack HillenJohn Carlson

John ErskineSteve Oleksy

Braden Holtby

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Jeff Schultz, Wojtek Wolski

Injured: Brooks Laich (groin), Tom Poti (back), Joel Ward (knee)

Notes: Joel Ward will miss his ninth straight game with a bruised left knee from blocking a shot by Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Sami Salo on April 7 … Brooks Laich will miss his 11th straight game with a groin injury. Laich has been limited to nine games this season.

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