'Patience' helped Braden Holtby pace Washington Capitals to series win over Toronto

Braden Holtby stopped 61 of 63 shots during the final two games of the Capitals' first-round series against the Maple Leafs. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO -- Braden Holtby's game is back on track just in time to face the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Vezina Trophy nominee was feeling the heat through the first four games of the Washington Capitals' first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Holtby looked a little shaky at times but finished things off by stopping 61 of 63 shots during the final two games.

"He came up huge, and that's what Braden Holtby does," said Capitals coach Barry Trotz after Washington's series-clinching 2-1 overtime win against Toronto on Sunday night. "Early in the series, he took some criticism -- and there were a lot of doubters out there. The only people who doubted him were the people on the outside. But in our room there was no doubt. He's been too good for too long. He makes those key saves, and that's why he's been a Vezina candidate the last few years.''

I asked Holtby after Sunday's game what, if any, adjustments he and Caps goalie coach Mitch Korn had made after Game 4.

"We focused on me being more patient on deflections,'' Holtby said, "and not moving too soon."

It sounds like Korn had Holtby concentrate on getting back to basics after the first four games, refocusing on what he did during the regular season, when he helped lead the Capitals to 118 points and their second consecutive Presidents' Trophy. Now the 27-year-old goalie looks fine-tuned just in time to face his biggest challenge yet, starting Thursday when he and the Capitals host the defending champions for Game 1 of their second-round series.