Braden Holtby

Video: Holtby denies Nash on shorthanded breakaway

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Those who like to beat up on perceived “chokers” probably felt really sad to see perennial punching bag Alex Ovechkin score a big Game 7 goal. They probably received some relief later on in the period, though.

Rick Nash is no stranger to being a scapegoat, and his critics won’t be silenced after he failed to beat Braden Holtby with this backhand move on a shorthanded breakaway:

To some, this save was reminiscent of Marc-Andre Fleury stopping Ovechkin in Game 7 of that memorable Pittsburgh Penguins – Capitals series in 2009:

Restricted free agent or not, Holtby could make himself a lot of money in the playoffs.

Caps facing arguably the biggest game in franchise history

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It may not be fair, but we all know what the narrative will be if the Washington Capitals lose Wednesday in New York.

Same old Caps. Can’t win the big game. We thought it was different this time. But it’s not.

Head coach Barry Trotz is hoping his team’s near comeback in Game 6 is proof that narrative can be avoided.

“I thought we had a lot of resiliency to fight back,” Trotz said, per the Washington Post. “I know this team has got a lot of character they showed during the year. Probably not the path when you’re up 3-1 that you want to take, but at the same time it’s a great opportunity in Game 7 to find out, I know this team very, very well, and it’s got a tremendous amount of character.”

The Caps have already come up big once in these playoffs, suffocating a dangerous Islanders team in Game 7 of the first round.

But that was at home. This one’s on the road, in “the lion’s den,” as Trotz puts it. The same rink, Madison Square Garden, where on Friday the Caps came 101 seconds from clinching their first trip to the conference finals since 1998.

You could make the argument that Wednesday will be the biggest game in Washington’s franchise history. You’d have some competition there, but you could put forth a few good reasons.

At the top of the list would be the opportunity for the Caps, should they beat the Rangers. Neither Montreal nor Tampa Bay, whoever comes out of that series, has looked entirely dominant in the playoffs. Beat the Habs or Lightning and it’s the Ducks or Blackhawks in the final. Two very good teams, yes, but beatable for sure.

There are 30 teams in the NHL. The league’s landscape changes by the year. These opportunities don’t come around all the time.

What’s more, this is not a particularly young Caps roster we’re talking about. Alex Ovechkin is nearly 30. This isn’t like, say, 2008-09 when Washington got bounced in the second round and it wasn’t the end of the world because he was only 23. Back then, Nicklas Backstrom was still just 21.

Since then, the Caps have only come close to escaping the second round once — in 2012, when they lost a Game 7 to the Rangers. At MSG.

“It’s disappointing,” Braden Holtby said then. “We really did believe in here that we had the team to do it all. We gave ourselves a great chance.”

The Caps have another “great chance” Wednesday. Whether they can take advantage remains to be seen.

Related: Messier moment? Ovechkin: ‘We’re going to come back and win the series’

Kuznetsov: Caps will win Game 7 because ‘our goalie is better’

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The Washington Capitals already furnished the New York Rangers with bulletin board material thanks to Alex Ovechkin’s soft guarantee for Game 7. Why not double-down, then?

When asked about why the Capitals might take Wednesday’s decisive game against the Rangers, Evgeny Kuznetsov said it came down to Braden Holtby vs. Henrik Lundqvist … and he’ll take Holtby.

“Our goalie’s better,” Kuznetsov said with a laugh. “I don’t know what you want me to say. Our goalie’s better.”

Here’s video of his comments, along with other interesting reactions (some more likely than others to provide bulletin board material):

Those are bold words in just about any context, but considering Lundqvist’s status as one of the few truly elite goalies in the NHL – maybe the elite goalie in the league – things get that much spicier. Quite frankly, Lundqvist clearly got the best of Holtby in Game 6, yet perhaps their will be a reversal of fortune when everything’s on the line for both teams?

If that’s true, it would break an interesting pattern:

Perhaps Kuznetsov and Ovechkin were a little bit more candid following the frustration of seeing Washington’s 3-1 series lead evaporate into a 3-3 tie? Whatever the case may be, they’re adding extra motivation to a Game 7, the most inspirational situation a hockey player can ask for (at least from a team standpoint).

The beauty and silliness of sports wraps up in this thought, then: if Washington wins, this will look brilliant … and the opposite situation would make them look like bragging buffoons.

Barry Trotz probably doesn’t love this, yet it sure makes this situation more fun, doesn’t it? We’ll see if this candor only heightens over the long break until Game 7 on Wednesday, then.

Video: Lundqvist gets inventive with series of saves

The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals are piling on scoring chances in Game 6, but only Chris Kreider found the net so far.

As well as Braden Holtby is performing, it seems to be advantage: Henrik Lundqvist early on. He turned some heads by making an impressive string of three successive saves, including showing a little bit of ingenuity against Troy Brouwer:

Yep, that’s impressive. Again, Holtby’s been great too, but so far “The King” is showing why he draws such royal praise.

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight

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A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action…

Rangers at Capitals, 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN

The Rangers will once again look to avoid elimination tonight as their series with the Washington Capitals shifts to the Verizon Center for Game 6. The series has been a showcase of outstanding goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby have stopped a combined 296 of 311 shots through five games for a .952 save percentage. New York has now played in an NHL-record 12 straight one-goal playoff games. The Caps have been eliminated by the Rangers in seven games in each of their last two playoff appearances. Washington is 7-2 against New York at home in the playoffs since 2012.

Flames at Ducks, 10:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007 the Anaheim Ducks have not made it past the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Ducks have a chance to close out their second round series with the Calgary Flames in Game 5 tonight at the Honda Center. The Flames are looking to advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2004 when they came one win shy of capturing the franchise’s second Stanley Cup. Calgary will be in tough tonight – the Flames have lost 21 straight at the Honda Center since a win on April 25, 2006. The Ducks won Games 1 and 2 in Anaheim by a combined 9-1 margin. Dave Strader and Brian Engblom have the call of Game 5.