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Holtby helping surging Capitals find their groove

Geoff Burke / Reuters

Playing at an elite level isn't unfamiliar territory for Braden Holtby, but he's been particularly unbeatable lately, and that stellar play has been a major factor in the Washington Capitals' eight-game win streak.

The goaltender earned his NHL-leading sixth shutout of the season in Friday's 6-0 domination of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Three of those clean sheets have come in his last five contests, and five of them have been recorded in his last 14 games.

The 2016 Vezina Trophy winner has long been in the conversation for the 2017 award, but beyond Sergei Bobrovsky's league-leading 26 wins, only Minnesota Wild netminder Devan Dubnyk has been better than Holtby in the other key categories.

Goaltender W GAA SV% SO
Dubnyk 22 1.77 .940 5
Holtby 21 1.85 .933 6
Bobrovsky 26 2.00 .931 3

The Capitals have allowed an NHL-best 1.95 goals against per game, which is a credit to their defense as well as the play of Holtby and backup goalie Philipp Grubauer, who's been excellent in his own right, going 7-1-1 with a 1.94 GAA and .929 save percentage in nine games.

Washington can obviously score goals, too, putting in six against one of the league's best teams Friday night and ranking seventh in the NHL with 2.98 goals per contest.

Still, they wouldn't be on this current roll without Holtby, who's picked up right where he left off last season, helping the Capitals continue to challenge the scrappy Columbus Blue Jackets for top spot in the Metropolitan Division.

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