Despite a strong effort in net by Braden Holtby, his team was not able to offer much in the way of offensive support and the Rangers defeated the Caps, 2-1.
Holtby's effort earned him the third star of the game in the losing effort. He was peppered with 40 shots by the Rangers and was able to stop 38 of them. After a miserable start to the year that saw him split time with backup Michal Neuvirth, Holtby had won three straight starts coming into Sunday's game.
The young netminder made a name for himself during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he started all 14 games for the Caps. He finished with a 7-7 record and an amazing 1.95 goals-against average.
That's why there were high hopes in Washington heading into this season. The team finally seemed to have found its starting goalie.
Against the Rangers, Holtby looked solid in goal but was the hard-luck loser in a defensive contest.
John Carlson got the scoring started just over a minute into the game. The goal was fitting for the Massachusetts native, as Sunday was dubbed Hockey Day in America. Mike Ribeiro and Eric Fehr assisted on the score.
For Ribeiro, it was his team-leading 18th point of the season.
Although Washington started strong, it was unable to finish, as New York recorded two unanswered goals en route to the home victory. Carl Hagelin recorded a second-period score, while Derek Stepan scored on the power play in the third period.
The Caps were outshot in the game by a tally of 40-28. That has been a trend for Washington in the early going of this season. The Caps also gave the Rangers five power-play chances in the game.
While the loss puts Washington in a tough spot as far as the playoffs go, head coach Adam Oates has to like what he saw from Holtby and looks to have needed consistency between the pipes. Before Sunday, both goalies had made seven starts this season.
The Capitals will look to rebound in their next game on Feb. 21 when the tough New Jersey Devils visit the Verizon Center.
Look for Holtby to get the nod in that one and try to build off the success he has found recently.
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