Goalie stops 33 shots to keep hot streak going

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby is not tired and he is certainly not ready to sit out a game yet. He is having too much fun.

His team is not far behind, either. Washington has shrugged off a difficult start to the 2013 season and on Tuesday night put together a second consecutive dominant performance in a 3-0 shutout of the Carolina Hurricanes at Verizon Center.

Holtby finished with 33 saves for his second shutout of the season. He has now started seven games in a row and is likely to get the nod again Wednesday night in Philadelphia. Teammates Nicklas Backstrom, John Erskine and John Carlson all scored goals, and the Caps finished with 40 shots on Carolina goalie Cam Ward.

Up Next
Capitals at Flyers
When » Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
Where » Wells Fargo Center Philadelphia

"My job is to be prepared no matter what," said Holtby, who entered the year in competition with Michal Neuvirth for playing time. "I'd play every game if I had the opportunity."

Backstrom was fighting an illness the past few days but felt well enough Tuesday morning to play anyway. He's glad he did. On Washington's second power play of the first period, Backstrom, standing in front of Ward's net, converted a pretty pass from fellow playmaker Mike Ribeiro. That play started with a cross-ice feed from Alex Ovechkin and gave the Caps a 1-0 advantage. They fired 17 shots on Ward in the first period alone.

Holtby didn't have as much work early but made a big save after a turnover on the power play led to a 2-on-0 rush for Carolina. Of course, former Washington winger Alex Semin eventually was in all alone in his first trip back to Verizon Center since signing with the Hurricanes in August. But Holtby managed to get his glove on the shot and keep his team in front.

Backstrom continued his own strong play in the second period. He pushed the puck into the offensive zone and then had the vision to see Erskine trailing the play. He slid a pass over and Erskine sent a low bullet past Ward for a 2-0 lead. At one point the Caps had 31 shots on goal with more than five minutes left in the second period.

Ward's glove save on Joel Ward shooting at a wide-open net was one of the best so far this NHL season. He finished with 37 saves to keep the Hurricanes in the game. But Holtby matched him. He has now stopped 126 of the last 132 shots on goal over the last four games.

The Caps (7-10-1, 15 points) might still be in last place in the division, but they are also now just four points behind Southeast Division-leading Carolina (9-8-1, 19 points) with 30 games left in the regular season.

"I don't think it was a statement game. I think we're just taking one game at a time right now," said Erskine, who scored his second goal of the season. "We've got 30 games left or so. Take one game a night and get as many points as we can until the finals."