Braden Holtby shuts out Senators, Capitals win fifth straight

Holtby, Capitals blank Senators 1-0

OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators had a decent effort following their five-day break from the rink, but Braden Holtby had a better one.

Holtby made 30 saves for his second straight shutout and fifth of the season as the Washington Capitals defeated Ottawa 1-0 Saturday night.

The Senators were playing for the first time since they fell 2-1 to the Capitals on New Year’s Day before entering their bye week.

“It’s always a concern when you’re not on the ice and you have a long break like that, but I thought we were pretty sharp considering,” Senators forward Zack Smith said.

T.J. Oshie had the only goal as the Capitals (25-9-5) collected their fifth straight win. They are 12-2-2 in their past 16 games.

Mike Condon made 19 saves as the Senators (20-14-4) saw their losing streak climb to four games.

“One mental lapse on the goal and a team like that is going to capitalize, but I thought we played pretty good for the most part with lots of shots and lots of chances. Holtby is one of the best goalies in the league but all-in-all it was a pretty good effort.”

Ottawa had a late power play in the third period after Karl Alzner was called for boarding against Mark Stone. The Senators had some quality chances during the advantage but were unable to beat Holtby.

They pulled Condon with 1:20 to play but could only manage one shot on goal.

“We scored on that controlled breakout, and after that there wasn’t much happening between the blue lines on both sides. We jammed it up and they jammed it up,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz explained.

Through two periods there were plenty of opportunities, but the lone goal of the opening 40 minutes came from Oshie just 1:38 into the game.

The Capitals broke into the Senators zone and Oshie released a one-timer off a pass from Nicklas Backstrom past Condon for the early lead.

“I’ll remember this,” said Backstrom, who collected his 500th NHL assist on the goal.  “I knew it right away because I had been reminded a couple of times.

“I thought we did a good job shutting them down, killing off power plays and Holtby was great back there making saves.”

Nate Schmidt, who picked up the secondary assist on the play by passing to Backstrom, seemed more excited about the milestone after the game than Backstrom did.

“He’s made a lot of people look good over the years, about 500 times you could say. It’s really special to be part of that and in the picture with his 500th. Kudos to him. He’s been the ultimate pro and such a leader for us.”

The goal came just seconds after Ryan Dzingel had a couple of chances at the other end of the ice.

“It was a very, very solid game. (Washington) are Presidents’ Trophy winners and a terrific team, and we keep them to 20 shots and we get 30,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said.

“Right now the recurring theme is that we’re a little snake bitten for the back of the net and it’s been four games now. We’ve played four really good games and we’re just missing these goals. We hit posts, we just missed a two-on-one and that’s where the games are.”

Early in the second period Oshie took a hard hit from Senators defenceman Dion Phaneuf at the Ottawa blue line. Oshie slowly made his way to the Washington bench seemingly favouring his left shoulder.

After a few moments on the bench Oshie went to the locker room, but he did return later in the period.

He did not return, however, for the third period. He missed seven games earlier this season following a similar hit in a game against Detroit. There was no update on his status after the game.

The Senators had the better opportunities through the rest of the second period, but to no avail.

Erik Karlsson took a blistering shot from 20-feet inside the blue line and although he beat Holtby with the shot, the crossbar behind the Capitals’ netminder had the final say.

Later Dzingel seemed to have Holtby at his mercy on the tail end of a two-on-one with Jean-Gabriel Pageau, but he put his shot wide trying to go high stick-side.

Notes: Bobby Ryan was scratched for the Senators. Taylor Chorney and Liam O’Brien were scratches for the Capitals… Senators forward Curtis Lazar has yet to register a point in 18 games this season…Senators defenceman Chris Wideman turned 27 Saturday…Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom collected the 500th assist of his career in the first period…The Senators host the Edmonton Oilers Sunday while the Capitals next Play Monday in Montreal against the Canadiens.

Darren Desaulniers, The Canadian Press

Canadian Press