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Holtby's chase of history buoys Capitals to NHL lead

NHL.com @NHL

Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby is chasing some lofty personal records and pulling his team along in the wake.

Holtby extended his personal point streak to 22 consecutive decisions with a 4-1 victory against the Vancouver Canucks at Verizon Center on Thursday. He is now one game short of tying the franchise record set by Jose Theodore, who went 20-0-3 from Jan. 13 to April 9, 2010.

Holtby started his point streak on Nov. 12 and has gone 20-0-2. Holtby won his 129th game with the Capitals on Thursday to pass Don Beaupre for second place on the franchise win list. Olie Kolzig holds the franchise mark with 301 wins.

Holtby can match the streak by Theodore this weekend as the Capitals travel to face the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CSN-DC +, MSG-B, BELL TV) and host the New York Rangers on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; NHLN, TVA Sports, MSG, CSN-DC). It is unclear if Holtby will start Saturday or Sunday.

In many ways, Holtby's streak might be more impressive than the one he is chasing.

He has a better save percentage than Theodore across the length of the respective streaks, .939 to .922. Theodore allowed three or more goals 12 times in the 24 games it took him to go 20-0-3 (there was a no-decision in the 20th start of the streak). Holtby has only allowed three or more goals six times in his 23 starts during his streak. Holtby also had a no-decision, Dec. 18, allowing three goals on 12 shots against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Capitals as a whole have benefitted mightily from the excellence of Holtby, who leads the NHL in wins (28), ranks second in goals-against average (1.91) and is third in save percentage (.933).

Washington (33-7-3) is the fifth team in NHL history to win 33 or more of their first 43 games in a season, joining the Boston Bruins (1929-30: 37), Chicago Blackhawks (2012-13: 34), Pittsburgh Penguins (2012-13: 34) and Montreal Canadiens (1944-45: 33).

It is the best start of the season, in terms of wins and points, in the 41-year history of the franchise; as a result, the Capitals hold a seven-point lead on the Dallas Stars and the Chicago Blackhawks in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.

They have their past five games, lead the Eastern Conference standings by 12 points and maintain a 16-point lead on the New York Islanders for the Metropolitan Division lead. The Capitals have also won 11 straight games at Verizon Center, their longest such run since winning a franchise-record 13 in a row during the 2009-10 season.

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