Posted: Thursday April 26, 2012 12:29AM ; Updated: Thursday April 26, 2012 12:32AM
Adrian Dater
Adrian Dater>INSIDE THE NHL

Holtby, Knuble highlight Wednesday's Three Stars

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Braden Holtby's calm demeanor paid off as the Capitals advanced to the second round.
Braden Holtby's calm demeanor paid off as the Capitals advanced to the second round.
Matthew Healey/LANDOV

1. Braden Holtby, Washington -- It wasn't just Holtby's play that largely contributed to his team's ousting of the defending Stanley Cup champions. Sure, he was outstanding, allowing just 15 goals in the seven games, stopping more than 94 percent of the shots he saw. But it was Holtby's relaxed demeanor that seemed to unnerve the Bruins throughout the series, especially as Game 7 went along. When Boston got a goal from Tyler Seguin to tie it -- a shaky goal allowed by Holtby after allowing a big rebound -- they could have reasonably expected Holtby to get jittery and allow one or two more in front of a hostile crowd. Never happened. Holtby just shook it right off and gave his teammates what they always say they want from a goalie: just a chance to win the game. His performance in the series wasn't on the level of past rookie goalie showings like those of Ken Dryden or Patrick Roy. But it was good enough to knock out a Stanley Cup champion that played a pretty fair series themselves.

2. Mike Knuble, Washington -- He was the old, allegedly washed up has-been at one point this season, at times a healthy scratch for the Capitals. In Game 7, he was an overtime hero. Knuble made great plays at both ends of the ice on Joel Ward's game-winning goal. First, he blocked Benoit Pouliot's attempted dump-in near the Bruins bench, preventing a Boston line change. He then grabbed the loose puck and carried it down the left side before getting off a shot that Tim Thomas couldn't control, providing the necessary loose change for Ward. Not a bad way to end a series for a guy who some wondered if he'd even play or not.

3. Matt Hendricks, Washington -- It was just a beauty of a tip by the Caps' rugged fourth-line center for their only goal of regulation. Hendricks, foolishly let go by Colorado as a free agent in 2010 after a solid season there, redirected John Carlson's point shot past Thomas in the first period. While Hendricks did not fare well in the face-off circle, losing five of six draws, he had a team-high six hits and three shots on net. The Blaine, Minn., native scored his first goal since March 10 (at Boston) at just the right time.

 
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