Braden Holtby, Capitals stave off Flyers to complete season sweep
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are approaching, and Braden Holtby knows it.
After a loss Friday marked by low energy from the whole team, the Capitals showed up Sunday to end a two-game skid. For the amount of shots they faced, it wouldn’t have been possible without their goaltender.
Holtby made 35 saves as the Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 at home, completing a four-game season sweep of their divisional opponent for the second time ever.
Tom Wilson, Travis Boyd and Jakub Vrana scored for Washington, and Alex Ovechkin was one of several Capitals to record an assist.
The Capitals head into the final two weeks of the regular season hanging onto the Metropolitan Division lead at 44-24-8 (96 points). They will finish this homestand Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes before taking the final road trip of the season to Carolina, Tampa Bay and Florida.
Wilson put the Capitals on the board four minutes in by redirecting a shot from Nick Jensen. The puck hopped in front of the crease at an angle typically found in basketball bounce passes, and Flyers goalie Brian Elliott couldn’t grab it.
Boyd broke a 25-game goalless streak during the middle period. After he missed a shot from close up, the puck came around to Niskanen at the blue line, and Boyd hopped a few inches to tip the puck down and under Elliott’s armpit.
With Michal Kempny out of the lineup indefinitely, with a lower-body injury he suffered Wednesday against the Lightning, the Capitals’ defensive pairings have become more fluid. Todd Reirden changed up the pairs throughout the second period, at one point moving Nick Jensen up with Dmitry Orlov, then with John Carlson. Christian Djoos skated with Matt Niskanen for a spell, another uncommon tandem.
For nearly 40 minutes, the different defensive looks helped keep the Flyers scoreless, although Holtby’s performance had more to do with that. Finally, Philadelphia struck with a power-play goal by Jakub Voracek, and it was 2-1 after the second.
Vrana’s goal came midway through the third on a Flyers neutral zone turnover. Brett Connolly popped a loose puck ahead to Vrana, uncovered, who netted his 22nd goal of the season.
Carl Hagelin and Evgeny Kuznetsov were game-time decisions with illnesses, but both played.
Up next, before playing another game, the Capitals will visit the White House on Monday in honor of winning the Stanley Cup.