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In the runup to the unveiling of the NHL First and Second All-Decade Teams on Jan. 24 (6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN), the NHL will be announcing its best plays, moments, events, coaches and team of the 2010s.
One selection, chosen by NHL.com and NHL.com International staff members, will be unveiled each day in the runup to the release of the all-decade teams. Today is Save of the Decade, which was made by Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights on May 30, 2018.
ARLINGTON, Va. — Braden Holtby relied on his training and instincts and hoped Alex Tuch did what he expected.
That was the Washington Capitals goalie’s approach when he made what instantly became known as “The Save” on Tuch in Game 2 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights. Without it, Washington might not have won the Stanley Cup that season.
“The timing is probably what makes it special,” Holtby said.
After losing 6-4 in Game 1 of the best-of-7 series, the Capitals were clinging to a 3-2 lead late in Game 2 when Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore dumped the puck into the Washington end from center ice.
The puck took a crazy bounce off the end boards and glass to Holtby’s right and caromed through the crease directly to Vegas forward Cody Eakin in the right circle. Eakin made a quick pass across to Tuch to the left of the goalmouth with a half-empty net in front of him.
Capitals defenseman John Carlson, who was caught turning the wrong way by the puck’s strange bounce, was among those who thought Tuch would score when Eakin’s pass went past him in the slot.
“Absolutely,” Carlson said. “I bet if there’s a (camera) angle coming from (the right-wing boards), I wonder how much of (Holtby’s) body is even in the net. It was just incredible.”
Holtby dove to his right and stopped Tuch’s quick shot out of mid-air with his stick paddle before gathering the puck under him to stop play with 1:59 remaining.
“You just try to stay on the puck, and you go to a place where you think he should shoot it,” Holtby said. “I think if you look at most of the goals that go in, it’s because they shoot it where they don’t mean to or shouldn’t shoot it. So luckily, that time he made the right shot, so I kind of had an idea where that would be.”
The Capitals held on for a 3-2 victory to even the series 1-1 instead of trailing 2-0 and won the next three games to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in their history.
Holtby, who went 16-7 with a 2.16 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and two shutouts in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, has downplayed the save in the past in terms of its technical level, but he’s always appreciated being able to come through on the sport’s biggest stage.
“There’s more of a nostalgia to it because it’s something you dream of doing in the Stanley Cup Final, that kind of thing, as opposed to technical saves,” Holtby said. “If you look at the saves of the decade, I think if you ask goalies to decipher what is really tough and what isn’t, you probably wouldn’t get the same list. So you look at it different ways.
“Some of them look really cool even though they’re not as much. So you’ve got to put both into the equation, I guess.”
Wed, Jan. 15: Save of the Decade — Braden Holtby, Game 2, 2018 Stanley Cup Final
Thursday: Coach of the Decade
Friday: Franchise of the Decade
Saturday: Playoff Series of the Decade
Sunday: Game of the Decade
Monday: Event of the Decade
Tuesday: Moment of the Decade
Wed, Jan. 22: Goal of the Decade
Fri, Jan 24: First and Second All-Decade Team