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Round 2

Braden Holtby will start Game 3 for Capitals against Penguins

Washington coach says 'no question' goalie will play after being pulled in Game 2 loss

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

Goalie Braden Holtby will start for the Washington Capitals when they face the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at PPG Paints Arena on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

After Holtby gave up three goals on 14 shots and was pulled after two periods in Washington's 6-2 loss in Game 2 on Saturday, coach Barry Trotz sounded undecided on his Game 3 starter when he said it was "way too early to talk about that."

But Trotz made it clear Sunday that he's sticking with Holtby.

"Absolutely. Why would you think otherwise?" Trotz said. "There's no question he's our goaltender. We expect him to start [Monday]."

After the game, Holtby said, "I expect to start every game until I'm told otherwise."

Trailing 2-0 in the best-of-7 series, the Capitals need him to rebound quickly.

The 27-year-old is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner and a finalist again this season after leading the NHL with nine shutouts, tying for first with 42 wins, and ranking second with a 2.07 goals-against average and fourth with a .925 save percentage. But he's struggled in the first two games against the Penguins, allowing six goals on 35 shots for a 3.67 GAA and .829 save percentage and getting outplayed by Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury.

Holtby was particularly upset with himself Saturday for not stopping Jake Guentzel's shot from the right circle, which beat him to the short side and increased Pittsburgh's lead to 3-1 with 3:46 remaining in the second period.

"That third goal, that's a big moment," Holtby said. "That's where your goalie needs to come up with a save, and I just didn't. Obviously, I was frustrated that I didn't do that."

Holtby wound up on the bench for the third period, watching backup Philipp Grubauer allow two goals on nine shots. Holtby was pulled four times during the regular season and responded well, going 3-1-0 with a 2.27 GAA, a .922 save percentage and one shutout in his starts that followed those games.

Trotz believes he will bounce back again Monday.

"I have a lot of confidence in him," Trotz said. "He probably hasn't had his series to this point. But I do know this: His body of work has been excellent. His mental toughness is excellent. I think he has the ability to park things, and he'll park it. And he'll be the difference in this series."

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