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Caps Aim to Keep Rolling vs. Cats

Posted on February 12, 2013 by Mike Vogel

Very early on in his NHL career, Caps goaltender Braden Holtby told me that he has always prided himself on rebounding from subpar games with a fierce determination to be better in the next one.


“My rule of thumb since I’ve been growing up is to never have two bad games in a row,” Holtby told me. “I’m looking forward to the next one already. There are some things I am going to have to work on in preparation and some technical things I will have to do better next time.”


Those words were spoken in the aftermath of a 5-0 loss to the Thrashers in Atlanta on Nov. 19, 2010. Holtby was pulled nine minutes into that contest – his third career start in the NHL – after he surrendered three goals on just five shots.


Holtby exhibited that trait of resiliency on Saturday against the Panthers, following a pair of rough outings – one start and one relief effort – against the Penguins with the fourth shutout of his NHL career in a 5-0 win over Florida, a game the Caps really needed to have.


Seeking their first road win of the season in another game against the Panthers, the Caps will turn to Holtby again on Tuesday night in South Florida.

Holtby was good on Saturday; he made 27 saves including a key stop on Kris Versteeg on a 2-on-1 midway through the first frame. But he also had help from his 18 skaters.


The Caps were able to get a goal late in the first, then two more in the second and two more in the third. It started with goaltending, but all four lines and three pairs contributed to get Washington a much-needed win.


Ten different players – including Holtby – were involved in the scoring as Washington finally lit the lamp more than three times for the first time in a dozen games in 2012-13.


Back in the lineup after several games as a healthy scratch, Mathieu Perreault had a goal and an assist, giving the Caps some much welcomed secondary scoring. Playing with Eric Fehr and Joel Ward, that trio set a strong tone in the offensive zone with good wall work and cycling shifts that led to two goals and seemed to spark the other units as well.


Getting contributions from up and down the lineup could be a key in getting the Caps rolling.


“That’s what really gets you through games and gets you through the season,” says Caps right wing Troy Brouwer, who tallied twice against the Panthers on Saturday. “Matty P.’s line last game was phenomenal. It was great to see them have a breakout game and get Fehrsie involved in the scorehseet.


“Matty P. off the healthy scratch list, in and involved. He did a great job all around. Wardo has been strong all season long. Those guys need to keep putting pucks in the net when they can and keep helping the other guys.”


Washington will be looking for a similar recipe tonight in South Florida as it seeks its first road win of the campaign. The Caps have played well at times on the road this season; they’ve held a lead in each of their last three road games. But they have not been able to play well enough for long enough to win a road game.


“We’ve got to play 60 minutes and that’s what we want to do tonight,” says Caps center Nicklas Backstrom. “I think we played a great game last game against Florida. We’ve got to keep doing the same things and keep working hard. That’s the key to us being successful, I think.”


Holtby is now 2-0 in two career games against the Panthers with a 1.27 GAA and a .951 save pct. The Caps are 3-0 this season when they limit the opposition to two or fewer goals; they’ll hope Holtby can continue to keep the Cats under his spell.


Washington chased ex-Cap Jose Theodore from the game on Saturday night. Scott Clemmensen came on to mop up in relief; he stopped all four shots he faced in 11 minutes of work.


Clemmensen is seeking his first win of the season. He is 0-1 with a 3.77 GAA and an .853 save pct. in four appearances (two starts).


Lifetime against Washington, Clemmensen is 4-7-1 with a 3.65 GAA and an .868 save pct.


Two of those four Clemmensen wins over the Caps came here in South Florida last season. The Caps know they need this one to start even a modest winning streak, to become the last NHL team this season to win on the road and to start to climb the Eastern Conference standings ladder.


A regulation win on Tuesday would draw the Caps even with Florida in the standings.


“Anytime you let teams off the hook and you play 20 good minutes,” says Caps left wing Jason Chimera, “it’s not going to be enough to win the hockey game. We know that. You can have stretches where you don’t play that good, but over the course of the game you’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game or else you’re going to lose the hockey game.


“We’ve got to get rolling here. Guys want to build on what happened on Saturday. It’s going to be important for us to get a good start and keep on going from there.”

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