WASHINGTON (AP) Braden Holtby only needed to make 15 saves for a shutout on a drab evening of relatively little action, so even he was willing to acknowledge what plenty of others were thinking.
”It was more of a game that everyone thinks is out of the NHL. It was like going back in time,” the Washington Capitals goalie said. ”I don’t think we created too many hockey fans tonight, but we got a win.”
Just like league-leading Washington always does when it plays at home – every single time in 2017.
The Capitals won their franchise-record 14th consecutive game in D.C., beating the New Jersey Devils 1-0 Thursday night, thanks to Holtby’s eighth shutout of the season and rookie forward Jakub Vrana’s power-play goal with about 12 1/2 minutes left.
”Nobody realizes it’s a streak or anything like that,” Holtby said. ”It’s just that we’re confident in our game, trying to take every day for what it is, and see how we can create success.”
While in recent years, Alex Ovechkin’s team toggled between a go-go offensive brand and, briefly, a more defensive-minded approach, this year’s edition appears capable of playing either way on any given night. Against the Devils and their clog-the-middle, low-scoring strategy, Washington persevered.
”You’ve got to work for every little shot, every little play. They’re just waiting for you to make mistakes,” said Washington defenseman John Carlson, who assisted on Vrana’s second goal in 14 career games.
Coach Barry Trotz, Carlson said, has ”been harping for a while on just kind of, `some nights you’ve just got to play the game that’s presented to you.’ Tonight was a prime example.”
Washington’s streak in the nation’s capital began on New Year’s Day; the team’s last defeat on home ice came was 2-1 via shootout on Dec. 29 against – yes, that’s right – the Devils.
During its run at home, Washington has outscored opponents 65-20 and recorded six shutouts.
”We haven’t let teams off the hook in this building. … We have last change; that’s always very helpful,” Trotz said. ”We can make it hard for other teams to try to figure out which way we want to go on matchups. I can move it around a little bit.”
Then he noted: ”We’ve got a great crowd.” That drew a yell of approval from a fan standing outside the interview room.
Washington’s power-play unit included defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who made his home debut after arriving before the trade deadline from the St. Louis Blues. During the first period, Shattenkirk was introduced to the crowd and shown on the over-the-ice videoboard. He rose from his seat on the bench and waved to cheering spectators.
”Even a little thing like that,” Shattenkirk said, ”for a guy like me that hasn’t been here before, was very special and meant a lot to me.”
NOTES: Devils F Mike Cammalleri left the game; coach John Hynes said he hadn’t talked to team trainers and didn’t know what was wrong. ”I just know he went into the boards awkwardly,” Hynes said. … New Jersey’s previous season low for shots on goal was 17. … Before the current run, the Capitals’ best home stretch was a 13-gamer in 2010. … New Jersey lost its fifth in a row, unable to score during a 4-minute penalty to Capitals forward Brett Connolly late in the third period. … Ovechkin has just one goal in his past nine games. … Capitals D Dmitry Orlov engaged in his first career NHL fight. … Devils F Kevin Rooney made his NHL debut, centering the fourth line.
Devils: At Boston on Saturday.
Capitals: Host Philadelphia on Saturday.
Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich