Three Stars: Holtby, Brassard, Roussel stand out on Saturday
Saturday featured a slew of good games. The Rangers leveled their series with the Penguins, the Capitals took a 2–0 series lead over the Flyers, the Stars used a controversial call to grab a 2–0 advantage over the Wild and the Sharks won their second road game to go up 2–0 in their series with the Kings.
Here is who stood out the most on Saturday:
1. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals
Holtby’s charmed season continues. The All-Star goaltender was deserted by his teammates on Saturday night, but made 41 stops to lead the Caps to a 4–1 victory.
“They were going to the net hard,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said of Philadelphia’s relentless attack. “They were throwing pucks from everywhere, trying to just create a lot of chaos around the net. But Holts was good. He was outstanding tonight.”
Holtby was at his best in the first period when he faced 19 shots, the same number he saw in all of Game 1. He was rock solid while killing off a two-man disadvantage during the frame, robbing Wayne Simmonds twice in a span of four seconds.
With a single goal allowed over his first two games this spring, Holtby ranks first among active NHL goalies (minimum 20 games played) in career playoff goals-against average (1.84) and save percentage (.938).
2. Derick Brassard, New York Rangers
Coach Alain Vigneault challenged his top line to be better in Game 2 and Brassard answered the call. He scored on a breakaway to key a three-goal second-period outburst and added a pair of assists as the Rangers knocked off the Penguins, 4–2. With three points in the game, he tied Brad Park and Adam Graves for 10th place on the team’s all time playoff points list (44). He also was credited with seven hits, showing a level of commitment that will be critical as this series shifts to New York tied at a game apiece.
3. Antoine Roussel, Dallas Stars
It wasn’t just that wacky goal, although that certainly was Roussel’s signature contribution to Dallas’s 2–1 win over Minnesota in Game 2. It was how effectively he sucked the will out of the Wild with his ferocious forecheck, his tenacious defense and his relentless chirping. If you watch the play as it leads up to his controversial tally, it’s clear no one wearing white had any desire to cover him. He’s deep in their heads and a big reason why the Stars are heading north with a 2–0 series lead.