Braden Holtby showed the St. John's IceCaps why he was the Washington Capitals' starting goalie during last season's NHL playoffs.
The 23-year-old netminder made 32 saves Tuesday as the Hershey Bears defeated the IceCaps 2-1 in the American Hockey League.
"Any goaltender in this league is pretty good, but especially the guys who are down here because of the lockout," St. John's right-winger Ray Sawada. "You have to make sure to get in their vision, because they are going to make the stops, for the most part, if they see it."
Jon DiSalvatore and Tomas Kundratek scored for the Bears (12-12-1) on the power play, while Jeff Taffe and Zach Hamill each had two assists.
Zach Redmond replied for the IceCaps (11-13-1) on the man advantage. Mark Dekanich made 20 saves in defeat.
Special teams were the difference on the night as Hershey went 2-for-6 on the power play, while St. John's wound up 1-for-7.
IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge, who was happy with his team's performance, said Holtby was the difference.
"He's played in the National League and he was a big part of (Washington's) playoff push last year," McCambridge said. "He's a top-end goaltender.
"I'm disappointed for the guys to not be rewarded for the effort they put forth here."
Tied 1-1 heading into the third, Kundratek gave Hershey the lead for good by blowing a slapshot past Dekanich from the point just 40 seconds into the final period.
DiSalvatore opened the scoring for the Bears at 10:51 of a chippy first period that saw the teams combine for 32 penalty minutes, including two fights.
With Hershey enjoying a 5-on-3 power play, Taffe found DiSalvatore with a cross-crease pass for an easy tap-in and a 1-0 lead.
St. John's, which oushot Hershey 10-2 in the second, tied the score on the power play at 12:32 when Redmond pinched into the slot to jump on a big rebound from Holtby.
The IceCaps threw 14 shots at Holtby in the third period, but the Lloydminster, Sask., native stood tall to preserve the one-goal victory.
Sawada said the game, which featured a combined 46 minutes in penalties, was particularly physical.
"Everything building up to that, a sucker punch in the face, a cross-check here, face-wash, eye gouge here," he said. "We don't really like them, and they don't like us."
Redmond said St. John's made a point of pushing the physical tempo.
"We did mention before the game not to pass up any checks. Throughout the course of the game, it does wear teams down, even if you don't take a big run at them," he said. "From a physical side of things, we did pretty well. We have to keep that up though."