Philipp Grubauer’s stint as the Washington Capitals backup goaltender has probably been a little more stressful than he bargained for. In his last three games, (one of them in relief of Braden Holtby) he’s faced some of the league’s best players in three straight shootouts. He stopped two Philadelphia Flyers shooters to top off the Capitals’ Sunday matinee comeback, a 5-4 shootout win.
The Capitals are finding themselves on the wrong side of a score deficit more often than not these days. Luckily for them, they are in the Metropolitan Division, and the Metropolitan division is not very good. After pounding the Flyers at in Philadelphia on November 1, they found themselves down 4-1 in the third period to the Flyers in their home barn.
Marcus Johansson tallied on the power play in the first period, but it took a Mike Green goal in the third, his second of the year, to spark a team comeback. Green told reporters after the game that they thought the Flyers were laying back and sitting on their lead a little bit, so they decided to take advantage.
“I think we just had momentum off [Mike Green’s] goal,” said Alex Ovechkin. “I think we had luck on our side today, especially at the end of the game and we’ll take it…to be honest, I just wanted to shoot the puck out there. To be honest, I missed my shot. It’s kind of funny but it was perfect and I’ll take it and the team will take it.”
Dmitri Orlov, who spent much of the last few months shuttling between Hershey and Washington and not having much playing time while in Washington, found the back of the net for the first time this season. The goal highlighted his excellent play so far in his latest stint in the NHL. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that he’s well on his way to becoming a top-four defenseman for the Capitals, and they could certainly use one.
In the waning seconds of the game against Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, Alex Ovechkin scored his fourth goal in one of his best performances of the season, and sent the game to overtime. Sunday against the Flyers, he repeated the nail-biting game tying goal of Tuesday’s ilk, which completed the comeback, and sent the game to overtime. It was his 27th goal of the season, and the sixth goal he has scored this season in the final 10 minutes of a game and/or in overtime.
Grubauer, who will likely be back in Hershey come Monday, staved off two Flyers shooters to earn his third career NHL victory, stopping 24 of 28 shots. He is 3-0-1 during this current call-up to the Capitals.
The Capitals, who were the last team to go to a shootout last season, now have 11 shootouts this season. They are 8-3 in the shootout this season, and 11-3 dating back to last season. Yeah, they’re going to have to find a way to win games in regulation. A team like the Flyers that collapses somewhat easily with a lead allows the Caps to narrow the goal deficit, but once they start playing better teams (re: Western conference opponents) they have to figure out ways to not fall behind early in a game, and to create and hold on to leads of their own.