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Unsung Holtby outshining Lundqvist

Capitals winning battle of goalies

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NEW YORK -- In the first-round matchup between the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals there is a Vezina Trophy-winning goalie who has taken his team to the Eastern Conference finals, and of course there is ... the other guy.

No, Washington's Braden Holtby doesn't have the awards, the accolades or the attention that New York counterpart Henrik Lundqvist has grown accustomed to.

What he and the Capitals do have is a big 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series that resumes with Game 3 at Madison Square Garden tonight.

Holtby yielded only one goal in the Capitals' victory in Game 1, outduelling Lundqvist on a night the star goalie felt at least one if not two of the three Washington goals should have been stopped.

Holtby and Lundqvist were both on top of their games Saturday and pitched regulation shutouts at each other. Mike Green managed to get a power-play shot past Lundqvist in overtime, and the Capitals held serve at home with a stirring 1-0 victory.

First-year Capitals coach Adam Oates is no stranger to Lundqvist's game. Consider him impressed.

"He's exactly what everybody says. He's a great goalie," Oates said.

Holtby is making a name for himself, too, after going 23-12-1 with a 2.58 goals-against average in 36 regular-season games. He had only been in 21 total NHL games the previous two seasons before getting into 14 playoff games a year ago.

He stayed off the ice on Sunday and enjoyed some well-earned rest time.

"Rest is obviously an important part in preparation," Holtby said. "We'll get back on the ice (Monday) in pregame skate and get our legs back under us. Use the rest to our advantage and come in with the right frame of mind and ready to play."

Madison Square Garden will surely be fired up today, but there will be a healthy dose of nerves in the crowd, too, especially if the Rangers can't find their suddenly absent offence in a hurry.

Carl Hagelin gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with 3:16 left in the first period of Game 1, and they haven't scored since -- going 111 minutes, 16 seconds without putting a puck past Holtby.

"We know they're going to make a push," Holtby said Sunday after the Capitals held an optional practice before heading to New York. "It's a big game for both of us."

If Washington can manage even a split of the next two games in New York, it knows it will return home at worst with a chance to knock out the Rangers in Game 5.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 6, 2013 C3

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