Braden Holtby doesn't need much help these days, but the scheduling gods have lined the Washington Capitals' goaltender up with consecutive games against one of the NHL's worst offenses.
Two days after shutting out the Buffalo Sabres, Holtby will try to help the Capitals to their ninth straight win Wednesday night in the conclusion of a home-and-home set at Verizon Center.
Washington (27-6-2) is off to the best start in franchise history and padded its huge lead ahead of both New York teams in the Metropolitan Division with Monday's 2-0 win at Buffalo. The Capitals have a chance to take the season series on Wednesday while winning nine games in a row for the first time since Feb. 26-March 15, 2011.
The Capitals have also won eight games in a row at home and are 14-3-1 at Verizon Center.
Holtby has six wins during Washington's streak, upping his league-leading total to 23. His last regulation loss came on Nov. 10, and he is 15-0-1 since. Holtby holds a 1.68 goals-against average in his last 20 starts and has pushed aside 60 of 61 shots in his last two.
Captain Alex Ovechkin scored his team-leading 18th goal in Monday's win for a team that ranks second in the NHL with 3.09 goals per game. Still, he pointed to the man in net as the difference as Holtby posted the 22nd shutout of his career and second this season.
''We knew he's good,'' Ovechkin said. ''He's our best player and probably the best goalie in the league right now.''
Backed by an average of 3.80 goals in the last five games, Holtby will face a team that ranks toward the bottom of the NHL with an average of 2.33. He holds a 1.48 GAA and .944 save percentage in his last four starts against Buffalo, winning the last three.
Buffalo (15-17-4) exploded offensively in Saturday's 6-3 win at Boston, but Holtby handed the Sabres their second shutout in five games and third this season.
The Sabres went 0 for 3 on the power play, extending their scoreless streak on the man advantage to 0 for 17 through six games, while the Capitals have killed off all eight penalties in their last three wins.
“We didn't execute in certain areas (Saturday) night,” right wing Brian Gionta said. “We played hard, we limited their chances, but the goals they got came off of mistakes by us.”
Chad Johnson figures to get the start in net for Buffalo after Linus Ullmark suffered Monday's loss. Johnson has won three of his last four starts with a 1.47 GAA and .957 save percentage, but he has a 2.61 GAA in three career starts against Washington.
Evander Kane played in his first game on Monday since The Buffalo News reported that Buffalo police were investigating a sex crime allegation against him. Kane, who finished with four shots, said after Monday's morning skate that he's innocent and looks forward to clearing his name.
Washington has won the last three games in this series and has picked up points in nine of the last 10.
- Alex Ovechkin
- Braden Holtby
- Brian Gionta
- Buffalo Sabres
- Chad Johnson
- Evander Kane
- Linus Ullmark
- Washington Capitals