One of the interesting things surrounding the Capitals improbable journey to the Stanley Cup was the goaltending saga. First, Philipp Grubauer played good but was unable to get a win. Later on in the season, Braden Holtby had a bit of a slump before a mental reset and the playoffs helped the Holtbeast regain his form.
Grubauer had his best season in Washington and his hot stretch began on Black Friday as the Capitals welcomed the Tampa Bay Lightning, who had an incredible season of their own which saw them dominate the Eastern Conference. Grubauer and the team came up big in the first of what would soon be many memorable wins against the Lightning.
Date: November 24, 2017
Result: Capitals 3, Lightning 1
Philipp Grubauer got off to a poor start but it wasn’t primarily his fault. For the most part, his starts would come in the back end of back-to-back affairs. Sometimes these instances came after a win the night before. Alas, Grubauer’s record heading into this Black Friday matchup was 0-5-1.
It wasn’t that Grubauer was playing bad. It was a variety of things. Most notably the backend as the Capitals were dealing with a young blue line filled with guys who had no prior NHL experience. Additionally, an injury to veteran Mat Niskanen was also a big blow.
The Lightning struck first 1:22 into the game on a power play goal from Vladislav Namestnikov. The Capitals would tie it late in the first with 1:24 left when Alex Ovechkin buried a one-timer from Tom Wilson.
Devante Smith-Pelly put the Caps ahead in the second on a give-n-go from Jay Beagle. Beagle would get the empty netter to give the Caps the 3-1 win.
In front of his parents, Grubauer gave his best performance of the season. He stopped 25-of-26 shots for a .962 save percentage. It would be the first of many occasions where Grubauer would come up big. His hot stretch while Braden Holtby needed the mental reset was a big reason as to why the Caps were able to not only make the playoffs but capture the Metropolitan Division and leading to better things to come.
What will moment #5 be?! Tune in next week to find out!
Miss any of the previous moments? Catch up below.