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Grubauer shows Caps' strength in net with strong performance

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Grubauer shows Caps' strength in net with strong performance

When the NHL season passes the All-Star break, the next big day in the hockey calendar is the trade deadline. As the season drags into January and February, everything begins to be seen through the prism of deadline day. So when Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer gave up four goals against the Florida Panthers on Feb. 2, people began to question whether goaltending depth was something the Caps needed to address through a trade before the deadline.

Grubauer put those fears to rest on Tuesday night with his performance against the Los Angeles Kings.

The Capitals' backup blocked 39 out of 40 shots, ceding only one goal to one of the top teams in the Western Conference.

"He made some great saves," head coach Barry Trotz said. "He looked very very confident and he was seeing things in slow motion tonight."

There have been times this season when it was clear that the Caps were only in a game because Braden Holtby was keeping them in it. This game felt similar in the second period when the Kings began to take control. Already up 1-0, they fired 19 shots on Grubauer in the second, but the Rosenheim, Germany native turned aside each and every one, allowing the Caps to stay within striking distance.

RELATED: Kuznetsov's go-ahead goal lifts Capitals over Quick and Kings

At the end of the period, instead of the Kings taking a dominating lead into the locker room, the score was tied at one and Los Angeles had nothing to show for their efforts.

"Guys in front of me did a really good job letting me see the pucks," Grubauer said. "They have a couple of tall guys on their team which makes it really hard for me to find lanes and look around. They did a really good job boxing out and keeping shots to the outside."

While the hockey media speculated over Grubauer's future following the loss to Florida, Trotz said he never lost faith in his backup.

"Gruby's been good all year. Last outing probably wasn't a normal Gruby one. I don't have any doubts in what he can do. That's why he got this game. I mean, he was going to get a Dallas or L.A. We had decided before."

That faith was evident even last season. In the first round of the playoffs the Caps were down 1-0 in the series against the New York Islanders when Holtby fell ill and could not play in a critical Game 2. Rather than turn to backup Justin Peters, Trotz instead called Grubauer up from AHL Hershey who rewarded Trotz's faith with the win.

This season, Grubauer has had to adjust from being the top guy in Hershey, playing in multiple games every week, to being a backup with relatively few opportunities.

"It was a transition for me this year obviously getting back-to-back games and maybe not seeing as many pucks," Grubauer said.

He may not be as good as Holtby, and showed that with some rebound control issues early in the game, but few goaltenders are. Still, despite the criticism after the Florida game, Grubauer has acquitted himself well. For the season, he has a 6-4-1 record with a 2.13 goals against average and .925 save percentage.

So do the Caps need a dependable backup goaltender? Absolutely. And they have one in Grubauer.

Said Trotz, "We never have any doubts that he's a good goaltender and tonight I thought he was rock-solid."

MORE CAPITALS: Doughty recalls Williams' Knute Rockne speech

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Caps prospect watch: Boyd dedicates 4-goal performance to daughter after week in the hospital

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USA TODAY Sports

Caps prospect watch: Boyd dedicates 4-goal performance to daughter after week in the hospital

It would have been understandable if Travis Boyd struggled this past week. Something more important was on his mind.

Boyd spent the week in the hospital with his daughter, Hayden, who had been experiencing pain in her throat. He spent the enitre week in the hospital, not leaving until Hershey's game against Laval.

Boyd turned this trial into something incredible as he scored four goals Friday in Hershey's 6-3 win.

Boyd spoke about the ordeal with Zach Fisch of the Bears Radio Network (transcription via RMNB).

“It actually started after the game last Sunday against Rochester," he said. "I went straight from the rink to Urgent Care and then from Urgent Care to the ER. Never left the hospital until Friday morning. We had a successful surgery on Thursday night. Basically just a bad infection in her throat that had to be surgically removed. They had to surgically go in and kind of remove the bacteria and drain out the fluids. Everything went well. She’s doing well.”

Following the game, Boyd dedicated his performance to Hayden.

A four-goal game at the AHL level would have been an incredible accomplishment on its own. The fact that it came during such a trying time for him makes this a truly inspirational story.

You can watch highlights of the game including all four of Boyd's goals here:

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK’S UPDATED CAPS’ PROSPECT RANKINGS HERE

Other prospect notes:

  • In the Bears' game Friday against Laval, Riley Barber dropped the gloves with Markus Eisenchmid.  Barber was given an extra minor and game misconduct for instigating the fight in the final five minutes of the game. That penalty carries with it an automatic one-game suspension which Barber served Saturday. Here's a look at the fight.

  • Liam O'Brien had a pair of two-goal games over the week, scoring twice against Laval Friday and then two more against Toronto on Monday. Of his four goals, three of them were empty netters.
  • As the Capitals prepare for their Stadium Series game in Annapolis on March 3, Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley—a native of Perth, Australia—made a plea to see Nathan Walker recalled for the game.  “I’ll have to put a quick shout out to the one Australian that’s playing for the Caps now, Nathan Walker. If you could just bring him up for this game, that’d be great. Because an Australian being in a hockey game is like a Jamaican bobsled team. It doesn’t happen very often.”

  • Brian Pinho was honored Friday in Providence College's Senior Night. He has served as captain of the team this season and as an assistant captain in his junior year. He spoke with The Cowl on what being a leader on the team means to him. "I think being a leader of this team is a great honor, but also a huge responsibility. I try to keep everything fun at the rink, while also bringing some intensity and competing hard every day.” You can read the full story here.
  • Goalie Adam Carlson, who was on loan to the Indy Fuel of the ECHL, was reassigned to the Kansas City Mavericks also of the ECHL. He started two games for his new team and turned aside 42 of the 48 total shots he faced.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in his week's updated rankings.

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Game 61: Capitals at Panthers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 61: Capitals at Panthers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers

Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Panthers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Panthers game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME?

The Capitals (34-19-7) take on the Panthers (26-25-6) Tuesday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Florida.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Panthers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Panthers
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Panthers game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-PANTHERS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.