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Tarik's three stars: Grubauer keeps Caps close, but can't cool Flames

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USA TODAY Sports

Tarik's three stars: Grubauer keeps Caps close, but can't cool Flames

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.

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Barry Trotz explains why Philipp Grubauer will get the start vs. the NHL-best Bolts

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USA TODAY Sports

Barry Trotz explains why Philipp Grubauer will get the start vs. the NHL-best Bolts

Coach Barry Trotz did not make any changes to his forward combos or defensive pairs of ahead of Friday’s showdown with the NHL-best Lightning.

He did, however, make a significant change elsewhere: Philipp Grubauer will get the nod against the Bolts as the Caps begin a tough back-to-back set that wraps up Saturday night in Toronto.

It’ll be Grubauer’s second start on home ice this season.

“Just to change a little bit of the order there,” Trotz explained. “Grubi has worked hard. It gives him an opportunity at home.”

HOW TO WATCH CAPS-LIGHTNING

Grubauer, who turns 26 on Saturday and has family in town, is still searching for his first win of the season. He’s 0-5-1 with a 3.86 goals against average and a .876 save percentage. In fairness, though, he’s drawn some tough assignments. In fact, four of his six starts have been the backend of a back-to-back.

“More than anything,” Trotz added, “he just deserved it.”

There’s also this: Grubauer is 3-0-1 vs. the Lightning in his career, with a .923 save percentage and a 2.61 goals against average.

Asked how much matchups factor into goaltending decisions, Trotz said: “A little bit but not really. I wanted to give him a home start, so why not now?”

With Grubauer set to face Nikita Kucherov and Co., Braden Holtby figures to get the Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.

MORE CAPITALS: HOW A PENALTY KILL DECIDED A GAME THAT WAS ALL ABOUT OFFENSE

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The Capitals' presence was felt at the Redskins' Thanksgiving game

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Via @JPFinlayNBCS

The Capitals' presence was felt at the Redskins' Thanksgiving game

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday that tends to be dominated by football. Even with the Redskins hosting the New York Giants on Thursday, the Capitals' still had their presence felt.

Andre Burakovsky decided to spend his Thanksgiving night at FedEx Field at the game to cheer on the Redskins. He tweeted out a picture from his seat.

Just as Burakovsky was there supporting the Redskins, Redskins offensive lineman Morgan Moses was showing love for the Caps with an Alex Ovechkin jersey.

The Redskins pulled out a critical 20-10 win over the division-rival Giants on Thursday giving everyone something to celebrate on the holiday. The Capitals will try to keep the hometown fans happy as they host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.

HOW TO WATCH CAPS-LIGHTNING