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Capitals goalie Holtby honored to be mentioned with Dryden

Second fastest to reach 200 NHL wins, behind Hall of Famer

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Braden Holtby initially tried to downplay the significance of the milestone, but couldn't deny that having his name in the company of a goaltender as prestigious as Hockey Hall of Famer Ken Dryden meant something.

 

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Holtby became the second-fastest goaltender in NHL history to reach 200 wins, making 27 saves in the Washington Capitals' 4-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Capital One Arena on Friday. Holtby got his 200th win in his 319th game. Only Dryden, a six-time Stanley Cup winner with the Montreal Canadiens who got 200 wins in his first 309 games, got there faster.

"Obviously, it's an honor to be in the same sentence as him," said Holtby, 28. "But I think with him and me that those teams that we've been fortunate to play on helped you get there. That's just luck in some ways. It's been a fun time to get to 200 and we move forward now."

Video: Walton on Holtby & 200th win, Stephenson's promotion

Holtby, who has won his past five starts, is 9-3-0 with a 2.48 goals-against average and .924 save percentage. In those five games, he has a 1.98 GAA and .939 save percentage. He is tied for the second-most wins in the NHL behind Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who has 12.

Win No. 200 came in a solid team effort against the rival Penguins, with Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby being held to two shots on goal and no points. The lone goal Holtby allowed came on a Phil Kessel pass that Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov deflected into his own net to tie it 1-1 at 8:26 of the second period.

Holtby shook that off and made 16 straight saves to end the game. He is 200-76-31 for his NHL career, which began in the 2010-11 season.

"It's a cool accomplishment, I guess," Holtby said of the milestone. "But it really doesn't mean anything in the end. It shows that I'm getting up there in years. That's about it."

Martin Brodeur, the NHL's all-time leader with 691 wins, needed 374 games to get to 200. Unlike Holtby, Brodeur played his first 12 NHL seasons before the League instituted the shootout to break ties in 2005-06, so he accumulated 57 ties during those first 374 games.

Dryden, who played for the Canadiens from 1971-79, was 200-41-61 when he hit the milestone.

Video: PIT@WSH: Holtby absorbs Sheary's wrist shot on break

But Holtby's accomplishment is impressive regardless. 

Prior to Holtby, the fastest goaltender to 200 wins in the shootout era was Antti Niemi, who did it in 356 games.

"I think we just take it for granted sometimes and say, 'Yeah, [Holtby] played great tonight' and move on, but I think he deserves a little more time to be talked about when he does stuff like that and it's well-deserved," Capitals defenseman John Carlson said. "It's no surprise on our end. We see him every day in his approach and work ethic and it's awesome for him."

As Holtby mentioned, he has benefited from playing on a strong team that won the Presidents' Trophy each of the past two seasons. Holtby was a finalist each of those seasons for the Vezina Trophy, given to the League's top goaltender, winning it in 2015-16 after he tied Brodeur's single-season record with 48 wins.

It's been a tougher challenge for him this season, though, with the Capitals missing top defenseman Matt Niskanen for the past 12 games with an upper-body injury, and rookie defensemen Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey being worked into the lineup after the offseason departures of Karl Alzner and Nate Schmidt.

"Last year, I thought he had a pretty easy year for most goaltenders," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "The year before, we gave up a lot of shots and a lot of high-quality chances, and I thought he was outstanding. This year, yeah, I think he's still playing at a high level.

"There's a reason you get to 200 wins as quick as he has. I think he's slowly evolving as the game keeps evolving. That's what makes the elite players elite in this league. He keeps evolving."

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