BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum
With a monumental 5-4 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday night, the Washington Capitals have tied the first round series at two games a piece. Easily though the Capitals would not be here without an incredible play by Tom Wilson in the first period of Game 4.
After a puck squeaked under Braden Holtby, it precariously drifted toward the goal line that would have tied the game at two in the first period. Wilson, at near full speed, went diving face-first into the netting, able to get his stick out to prevent the goal.
On the other end mere seconds later, Wilson ended up redirecting the same puck in the back of the Toronto net to put Washington up 3-1.
Now in a season of 82 games and a playoffs that requires 16 victories to take home the trophy, its hard to place the weight of the season on a single play. However, if there was a play to call on at the end of the year, look back to this one from the Toronto native.
Back in Game 3, Holtby also made an incredible save nearly 50 feet away from the pipes. For those not familar with hockey, that is pretty rare for a goalie.
Now everyone knows that he is a 'Holtbeast' but was it more incredible than Wilson's key shift in Game 4? Take out the fact that Washington won Game 4 and Wilson's second goal of the night, but which individual performance was better?
MUST SEE: Three Caps fans celebrate in a sea of sad Leafs fans
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
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