Photo credit: Frank Franklin II
Braden Holtby lay on his back, looking straight up at the ironic Madison Square Garden ceiling. In 73 regular season games, Holtby anchored the Washington Capitals. He did the same for 13 postseason games, offering up one of the best playoff performances by a goaltender ever. In Wednesday’s game seven, he made 37 saves. But goalies — even great ones like Holtby — can’t stop everything. There was nothing he could do to prevent Derek Stepan‘s overtime winner, the goal that ended the Capitals season. After the game, Holtby, still clearly shaken, spoke to the media.
What happened on the overtime goal?
It was just a shot from the point. Got a rebound on the right side, thought it was going left, hit something and went right to the guy. I don’t know what you can do different.
Does blowing a 3-1 series lead make the loss harder?
I don’t think that makes it anymore frustrating for us. I think obviously we had an opportunity to close it out, but all the games were close. It could have been 3-1 the other way at that time and us coming back. It could have easily been that way. We fought hard. Great series and one that could have easily went our way, but it didn’t.
Did you feel like you played well enough to win games six and seven?
Yeah. It was good hockey. Both teams played really well. We obviously feel we played good enough to win a series, but you look at them and they played good enough to win a series. It’s tough to swallow. This group is special. We have a very special group and it’s unfortunate.
Does it matter that you were beaten by the Rangers again?
No. We challenged ourselves against the best team in the regular season and, you know, we played really well. I’m proud of everyone on our team. Tough to swallow. There’s no regrets in this room. I’m proud of how everyone played here. It’s unfortunate.
You were right there…
We had control numbers-wise. All seven games could have went either way. That’s how close the hockey was. We feel like we played outstanding, but so did they. You have to give them credit. I wish them the best of luck. They played a great series. I was fun to be a part of. Obviously not fun to be on the losing side, but that’s why we play hockey, for series like that. We have to figure out a way to grow next year and get even better.
How long will this take to get over?
I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s tough to say. There’s no regrets in this room. We left it all out there. I don’t think there was one guy in this room that wasn’t committed to winning. That’s just life sometimes. You just gotta keep pushing forward. If we keep growing like we grew this year we’re gonna do special things in the future. This group is too good, too close, it works too hard to be stopped in the future if we keep pushing.
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