Many believe it’s only a matter of time before Braden Holtby scores his first NHL goal and on Sunday night against the Buffalo Sabres it nearly happened. Kinda sorta.
With about 7 seconds remaining and the Caps holding a 5-3 lead, Holtby corralled the puck behind his net, took two steps forward, and with Cody Hodgson in hot pursuit, launched a shot toward the empty cage nearly 200 feet away.
Alex Ovechkin, apparently unaware of Holtby’s intentions, gloved the puck in the neutral zone and chipped it into the Buffalo end as the horn sounded to end the game.
Holtby’s attempt at his first professional goal probably would have sailed wide right of the mark but he admitted he was gunning for it.
“I don’t practice that, I practice our breakout passes,” said Holtby, who picked up an assist on a Troy Brouwer goal on Feb. 9. “Every once in a while you try to shoot it down when you’re bored and see if you hit the net.”
Although 10 NHL goalies have been credited with scoring a total of 12 goals in the NHL, six of those goals have been “own” goals that were last touched by the goalie credited. Only five NHL goalies – Ron Hextall [two], Chris Osgood, Martin Brodeur, Jose Theodore and Evgeni Nabokov – have shot the puck the length of the ice for goals.
Hextall, with whom Holtby has drawn comparisons, was the first to do it in 1987 and duplicated the feat at the old Cap Centre in 1989.
“A lot of goalies, when I was growing up, that was the thing to do,” Holtby said. “That’d be something I’d like to do some day but I don’t want to ever put the tam in jeopardy by trying it. Hopefully, some day it happens.”
Holtby said there are a few ground rules when it comes to shooting for a goal: His team needs to be holding a lead of two or more goals; there needs to be 30 or less seconds on the clock; and/or it needs the be on a penalty kill, when he cannot be called for icing if he misses the net.