Washington Capitals' Braden Holtby ties record for victories

By Rob Rains, The Sports Xchange
Washington Capitals' T.J. Oshie takes a shot on goal in the first period against the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on April 9, 2016. Washington defeated St. Louis 5-1. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
1 of 3 | Washington Capitals' T.J. Oshie takes a shot on goal in the first period against the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on April 9, 2016. Washington defeated St. Louis 5-1. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

ST. LOUIS -- Alex Ovechkin wanted to make certain Braden Holtby earned his place in the NHL record books Saturday, so he did it the best way he knew how.

Ovechkin reached the 50-game mark for the seventh time in his career with his 15th career hat trick, and that was more than enough offense to help Holtby tie the record for most wins in a single season with the Washington Capitals' 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues.


The win was the 48th of the season for Holtby, tying the mark set by New Jersey's Martin Brodeur in 2006-07. It came on Holtby's third try and happened to come on a night Brodeur was in attendance, watching the game from the press box. He works in the Blues' front office and paid a post-game visit to the Capitals' locker room to congratulate Holtby.


"I wasn't thinking about it too much before but once we had a couple of overtime losses and it started to drag on you kind of feel it's becoming a bit of a distraction and you want to get it over with," said Holtby (48-9-7). "The guys played absolutely phenomenal tonight. It was a great team response and a pretty special day.

"It was pretty cool the way it worked out. I was told Marty broke the record in Philadelphia when Bernie Parent was there so that's kind of neat -- a story to tell I guess."

The Capitals play again Sunday in the final game of the regular-season and there might be a chance Holtby could play. After saying earlier that he would only play Holtby in one of the two games this weekend, coach Barry Trotz was non-committal after the game.

"It has not even crossed my mind," Trotz said. "We'll see. There are reasons; to me the most important thing is not putting him at risk and be ready for the playoffs."

Said Holtby when asked if he wanted to play Sunday to have a chance at breaking the record: "I'd love to play every game but I don't make those decisions."


The Capitals, behind Ovechkin's first two goals 2:45 apart early in the first period, put the game away with two goals in the second period from John Carlson and Jason Chimera -- his 20th of the season -- before Ovechkin got his third of the night at 10:35 of the third period. It was his second hat trick of the season.

"The guys tried to find me out there," Ovechkin said. "I just have to put it in. It's harder and harder to score goals in this league so I'm excited. We tried to play for him (Holtby). I'm happy for him, he deserves it."

The only two players in NHL history with more 50-goal seasons that Ovechkin are Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky, both of whom did it nine times.

"He had some jump," Trotz said. "He scored that first one and when the big man gets something in his sights he can be pretty special."

It also was a special night for the Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom, who assisted on Ovechkin's two first-period goals to reach 50 assists for the season.


It was a disappointing night for the Blues, who came into the game needing a win and a loss by Dallas to pass the Stars and win the Central Division and clinch the top seed in the playoffs in the Western Conference. The Stars defeated Nashville 3-2 to finish two points ahead of the Blues.

After Vladimir Tarasenko scored his 40th goal of the year 1:15 into the game, nothing went right for the Blues, who lost for only the second time in their last 10 games and find themselves headed into a first-round playoff matchup against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

"We didn't invest," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We didn't look at (Saturday), we looked at Wednesday. That's how we played. We didn't invest."

The Blue had only 20 shots on goal, half of which came in the third period after the Capitals had taken the commanding lead.

"We got that early goal and I think we kind looked like we fell into a bit of a trap thinking it was going to be like last game," said Kevin Shattenkirk, referring to the Blues' 4-0 victory in Washington on March 26. "They had a lot of energy after that and they seemed to take over the game. That's the team we thought we were going to see in Washington and they played a heck of a game."


The loss broke a season-high three-game losing streak for the Capitals, who head into the playoffs and a first-round matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers -- the first postseason series between the two teams since 2008.

NOTES: LW Robby Fabbri returned to the Blues' lineup after missing four games because of an ankle injury. ... The Blues said injured C David Backes and G Jake Allen will be re-evaluated Monday to determine their status for the start of the playoffs. Both players have missed the last three games. ... Capitals RW T.J. Oshie played his first game against his former team, having spent seven years with the Blues before being traded to Washington last summer. He had the flu and missed the first game between the teams on March 26 in Washington. ... The Capitals conclude the regular season on Sunday night at home with a makeup game against the Ducks. Their scheduled game Jan. 22 was postponed because of snow.

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