Last night in Hershey, Caps goaltending prospect Pheonix Copley did something remarkable. No, I’m not talking about the AHL rookie’s second straight shutout. Nor am I talking about his mind-boggling shutout streak of 144:28.
Team Switzerland had a porous performance at the World Championship. Led by Roman Josi and Damien Brunner, the Swiss failed to qualify for the playoffs, finishing fifth in Group B due to Mikhail Grabovski’s game-winner for Belarus. Eliminated before the end of the preliminary round, the Swiss played spoiler for Latvia, who needed a win to make the quarterfinals.
Late in the third period, Latvia trailed 3-1. After pulling goalie Kristers Gudlevskis, the Latvians got a goal back from Zemgus Girgensons on a deflection. Soon after, Kaspars Daugavins turned the puck over, giving the Swiss a chance to seal the deal. Reto Suri and Thomas Rufenacht went two-on-none towards an empty net.
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.