The Capitals, in the midst of a four game losing streak, had the odds stacked against them. Brooks Laich was a late scratch, forcing Jay Beagle into action for the first time since October 16th. Michal Neuvirth, who was supposed to be starting the game in goal for the Capitals, got injured during warm ups, forcing Braden Holtby to start a game that he wasn’t prepared to start. The Capitals were out shot 13-4 in the first period. Despite all this, the Capitals found a way to beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in a shootout.
Holtby led the way, saving 37 of the 39 shots on goal that he faced. He was especially impressive on penalty kills, saving all 6 shots that he faced during the Capitals’ two penalty kills. Mikhail Grabovski stepped up, filling in for Laich on the second line. He contributed to each of the two goals that the Capitals scored in regulation, scoring the game-tying goal in the third period (his 8th of the season) and grabbing an assist (his 13th of the season) on the other (scored by Eric Fehr) and scored what proved to be the game winning goal in the 4th round of the shootout. Fehr’s goal was his 3rd of the season. Fehr also added an assist on Grabovski’s goal.
The Capitals’ dreadful first period concluded with Alex Urbom being benched after just 2 minutes and 15 seconds of ice time. His benching was a result of a mistake that led to the Canadien’s first goal. This left Oates with just 5 defensemen, but the rest of the defensemen (namely John Carlson, who had 31:10 of ice time) were up to the challenge. It should be interesting to see how Oates spreads out the minutes tomorrow night when they face the Islanders.
Adam Oates was pleased with how the Capitals responded after the first period:
“We talk all the time about the way to win games in this League right now… It’s really difficult. You saw that. Their goalie played great. He [Peter Budaj] played great last time in here. Both goalies did tonight. You’ve got to grind it out. You’ve got to be willing to grind it out. The second half of the game, I guess we did a better job of doing that.”
Mikhail Grabovski described how he scored his game-tying goal in a way that only Mikhail Grabovski could:
“Just use my skates, play soccer little bit, but always dangerous when puck in the middle… Dangerous to defend that puck, so probably goalie don’t see that shot. You try do everything to score a goal. Maybe a risky play, but this worked.”
Here’s a video of his goal.
For tomorrow night’s game against the Islanders, the Capitals will be recalling one of their two goalies in Hershey. My guess would be Philipp Grubauer. Neuvirth is currently listed as day-to-day.