GIF by welshhockeyfan
Goaltenders are like all people. They have habits and idiosyncrasies. Some are reserved, some are wild. Braden Holtby has always been more of the latter. He’s made bruising checks in juniors, slashed teammates, and his zany routines are well known. Something he’s never done, though, is score a goal. Late in Washington’s 5-3 victory on Sunday, he almost got one.
“Something that I’ve always thought of is trying to score a goal, but that’s not my first priority,” Holtby told reporters after the game. “It’s definitely not something I practice.”
With the Caps on the power play in the waning seconds, Holtby retrieved the puck from behind his net. Weaving around a Sabres player, Braden launched a shot at the opposite net almost 200 feet away. The puck looked as if it was headed towards Buffalo’s net. However, Alex Ovechkin knocked it down at center ice with his glove. Instead of Holtby’s first ever marker as a goalie, the puck ended up lazily drifting into the corner as the horn sounded. Ovi knew what he might have prevented, shrugging as he went to congratulate Holtby on the win.
This is the second time Holtby’s missed an empty net goal in his professional career. Playing with the Hershey Bears two years ago, he had a pot shot at the net clang off the post.
“That was as close as I could get,” Holtby said Sunday of the missed opportunity.
Holtby is an excellent puck handler, in large part stemming from his days playing forward as a teenager. Even when he was wearing pads, the Saskatchewan native would often spend hours shooting the puck off his basement to himself as he waited for his dad to get home.
“A lot of goalies when I was growing up that was the thing to do; they were scoring goals. Hopefully someday it happens.”
Additional reporting by Ian Oland.