LAS VEGAS (AP) When Braden Holtby took some time off in February Jonathan Drouin Jersey , playing in only nine of the Washington Capitals‘ 14 games, he finally had a chance to reflect on aspects of his game.It might seem easy to say being benched in favor of Philipp Grubauer for the first two games of the postseason ignited Holtby’s standout playoff run. But he credits his midseason reprieve for a revival that pushed him and Washington into the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights. Game 1 in Monday night.”It was great to just have a break in February where I could really analyze myself in a game, go to work, kind of get back to those roots and just working as hard as I possibly can to figure out different things of myself and the game,” Holtby said. ”This year I think is one of those years where I’ve learned more and soaked in more knowledge than previous years.”The 28-year-old veteran enters the Final with a 12-6 playoff mark, a 2.04 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage. The Capitals haven’t allowed a goal in 159 minutes, 27 seconds, since Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay – including 157:13 with Holtby on the ice.Several key members of the Golden Knights are no strangers to Holtby, including general manager George McPhee, goalie coach Dave Prior and defenseman Nate Schmidt, a trio that have been a part of the Capitals organization during their careers. It was Prior who recommended McPhee and company draft Holtby in 2008, when the Capitals made him the second pick of the fourth round (and the 10th goalie taken in the draft).Holtby said Prior, who has helped Vegas goalie and three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury improve aspects of his game this season, taught him ways to analyze his game he would have never thought of.”He’s obviously one of the best, he helped me a ton,” Holtby said. ”He taught me how to practice correctly, how to really analyze my game honestly and grow in different ways. Before http://www.officialcanadiensprostore.com/authentic-adidas-karl-alzner-jersey , as a young kid, I just thought if you could just work as hard as you can, that’s how you get better. But there’s strategic ways and he was awesome, very calm, very unbiased watching games.”Schmidt said a common comparison between Holtby and Fleury is easy to see.”Both guys are very athletic,” Schmidt said. ”That’s something I knew about Fleury a little bit, and it’s caused a lot of heartache to me over the years. You see that kind of thing with guys who are never out of a save. That’s what makes both of them special players.”Holtby’s regular-season numbers (2.99 GAA, .907 save percentage) are a career worst. He said taking time to focus on things he never was able to do during a regular season has helped ease his mind and relieve certain pressures he was putting on himself during games.”Obviously throughout my career of hockey playing, you know that putting too much pressure on yourself and doing too much is never that good,” Holtby said. ”And I got caught up trying to do too much, and it never works too well, and it ended up snowballing.”Snowballing to the tune of him allowing four or more goals in eight of the 16 games he played during January and February. But over his last eight regular-season appearances in March, he finished 6-2 and never allowed more than three goals. He’s allowed three or fewer goals in 17 of the 18 playoff games he’s played in.”I’ve learned a lot of valuable things about myself, about the way hockey is now, it’s changed,” Holtby said. ”You have to play a little different than in the past with the speed and the way the game is mostly all about offense now. It’s different that way and I think that was one thing I had to learn.”—More Stanley Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/StanleyCupFinals NEW YORK (AP) — The surging Pittsburgh Penguins are closing in on the top spot in their division.Teddy Blueger scored twice, Matt Murray made 33 saves and the Penguins rallied from an early two-goal deficit for a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Monday night.“I thought we didn’t have a great start Jonathan Bernier Jersey Womens ,” Blueger said. “We know we have the firepower in here to get back in those kinds of games. We didn’t get down on ourselves. We kept pushing each other.”Blueger centered the second line, with Evengi Malkin out of the lineup due to an upper-body injury.“He’s playing an important role for us right now, especially with Geno out of the lineup, and he’s done a great job,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.Sullivan said after the game that Malkin, who has been out since leaving a game against St. Louis on March 16, did not skate Monday but “skated a couple of days prior to that.”Justin Schultz, Nick Bjugstad and Matt Cullen also scored for Pittsburgh. Phil Kessel and Marcus Pettersson each added two assists.“One of those (games) where everyone seemed to contribute,” Bjugstad said.Murray improved to 6-0-0 against the Rangers in the regular season and 5-0-0 at Madison Square Garden.Pittsburgh, which finished a 3-0-1 road trip, pulled into a tie with the New York Islanders for second place in the Metropolitan Division with 95 points. Both teams trail Washington by one point for first.“We’re all well aware of the standings and where we’re at,” Sullivan said.Brendan Lemieux and Vinni Lettieri scored for the Rangers. Alexandar Georgiev, coming off a 44-save effort in a 2-1 overtime win Saturday night at Toronto, stopped 31 shots.“We weren’t able to sustain all the good things we did in the first period,” coach David Quinn said.“And for them to tie it so quickly seemed to deflate us. We never got back on track.”Trailing 2-1, the Penguins roared back with three goals in the second.They tied the game 61 seconds into the period on the power play. Sidney Crosby had the puck behind the Rangers net and sent a pass to Schultz, who one-timed it past Georgiev for his second of the season.“I just saw Sid go behind the net Mike Reilly Jersey ,” Schultz said. “Obviously, he’s got great vision. Tried to find a lane. He made a great pass. Fortunate enough for it to go in.”Cullen gave the Penguins their first lead when he sent a high shot past Georgiev’s left shoulder at 7:17.Later in the period, with the Penguins killing a penalty, Blueger skated in on a break and sent a pass to Bryan Rust. The puck deflected behind the net and Rust sent a pass to Blueger, who scored on a backhand for his fifth of the season at 13:12 to make it 4-2.“I saw Rusty going backdoor and so I tried to throw it to him,” Blueger said. “Didn’t connect that clean. I just instinctively stayed there. I tried to get it on net as quick as possible.”Blueger added his second of the game at 7:38 of the third. Jared McCann sent a shot at the net and Blueger got enough of the rebound to put it in for his sixth of the season. The goal withstood a replay challenge for offside.The Rangers, who will miss the playoffs and are playing out the string, got off to a fast start in the opening period.Mika Zibanejad skated into the zone and sent a pass to Pavel Buchnevich at the left faceoff circle. Buchnevich quickly sent a cross-ice pass to Lemieux, who wristed it past Murray for his 12th of the season at 8:25. The goal was Lemieux’s third with New York since being acquired at the trade deadline from Winnipeg.The Rangers made it 2-0 on the power play when Lettieri fired a one-timer from the left faceoff circle past Murray at 15:15 for his first goal of the season.“In the first period, we were playing our game,” Georgiev said. “When we started losing, we started playing offensive hockey and the game opened up. Tonight they managed to shoot pucks really well.”Just 26 seconds later, Bjugstad got the Penguins on the board when he scored his 12th of the season. He got a loose puck and squeezed it through Georgiev’s pads to make it 2-1.“It was laying there and I just whacked at it. Just get the puck to the net and stuff happens every once in a while,” Bjugstad said.NOTES: Penguins defenseman Kris Letang missed the game with an upper-body injury. His status is day to day. Zach Trotman replaced him in the lineup. … Rangers forward Jesper Fast will miss the rest of the season because of an injury. D Marc Staal was out with a lower-body injury and forward Chris Kreider is day to day after missing Saturday’s win at Toronto.UP NEXTPenguins: Host the Nashville Predators on Friday night.Rangers: At the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.