Backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer gave the injury-depleted Caps a chance on Sunday night at the Saddledome. But his 36 stops weren’t enough as Sean Monahan and Co. struck midway through the third period and the Flames skated off with a 2-1 victory.
The defeat sent the Caps home with a 1-2-0 record on their Western Canada swing. They’ll take Monday off and will return to the ice at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday for practice in Arlington.
Tarik’s three stars of the night:
1- Johnny Gaudreau, Flames
Johnny Hockey had a hand in each of the Flames’ goals, earning a secondary helper on the first one and a primary assist on Monahan’s decisive score in the third period. On the game winner, Gaudreau carried the puck in, hooked off after his path to the net was blocked, then delivered a deft crossing pass right to Monahan on the doorstep.
2 - Jakub Vrana, Capitals
Through the first 40 minutes, the speedy 21-year-old winger was easily the Caps’ most dangerous forward. In the third period, he got rewarded. Vrana put his third shot attempt on net and it ended up squirting through Flames goalie Mike Smith (30 stops) and juuuust crossing the goal line to knot the score, 1-1. The goal was Vrana’s third on the season and first in six games.
3 - Philipp Grubauer, Capitals
The Caps’ backup is still looking for his first win, but he had his best performance of the season. He may have been a bit deep in the cage on the Flames’ first goal, but there was nothing he could do about Monahan’s go-ahead strike. Grubauer’s best save came on Mark Giordano—during a wild 4-on-1 jailbreak—that kept the game knotted 1-1 in the third. The start, by the way, marked the third straight for Grubi on the backend of a back-to-back set. So, yeah, he’s getting some tough assignments.
Let us know what you think in the comments.