Patric Hornqvist and Justin Schultz both had chances to put the Penguins within a goal of the Capitals late in the second period of Game 5. The only problem was Washington goaltender Braden Holtby, who wasn’t about to let anything get by him.
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby had to have his best game of the season Saturday night with Washington facing elimination in Game 5 of their second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and he answered that challenge with an outstanding 30-save performance. But in a game where Holtby earned himself first-star honors, it was two second-period saves that stood out most.
The first jaw-dropping stop came with less than four minutes remaining in the second frame. With the Penguins pressuring and attempting to pull back within one, the Capitals turned the puck over behind their net. Penguins center Matt Cullen was there to pick it up and swept out in front of the net before laying a pass across to Patric Hornqvist.
Cullen’s pass landed right on Hornqvist’s tape, and the veteran winger had an open look. But instead of finding the back of the net, Hornqvist was met with Holtby’s right pad as the Capitals netminder shot across his crease to turn aside the attempt:
As great as Hotlby’s stop on Hornqvist was, though, it was arguably the easier of the two huge saves he made in late in the second frame. Holtby was right back at it 16 seconds later — the very next rush for the Penguins — when he made an absolutely brilliant glove save on a shot by Justin Schultz.
Watch how quickly he gets across the crease and lays out for this stop:
That was exactly the type of play the Capitals needed out of Holtby in Game 5, especially after he had allowed six goals against in his past two games, a few of which came on fortunate bounces for the Penguins. The stops kept Washington’s lead comfortable at two goals, and those were the two best opportunities the Penguins had in the final 40 minutes of the contest.
For the remainder of the game, Holtby snuffed out every chance that came his way, and the Capitals now head to Pittsburgh with a chance to tie up the series and force a seventh game.