The Caps are sticking with goalie Philipp Grubauer for Game 2, Coach Barry Trotz announced following Saturday's practice.
Grubauer allowed four goals on 27 shots in Washington’s 4-3 overtime loss to Columbus Thursday. Afterward Trotz said he needed to “reevaluate” the goals that were permitted and talk things over with his assistants before naming a starter for Sunday’s pivotal game on home ice.
“I thought he was fine,” Trotz said following an hour-long session at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “There was nothing in that game that you’d say, ‘why [don’t] you make a change?’”
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Two of the three goals Grubauer allowed in regulation were scored on the power play. And Artemi Panarin’s overtime winner? That was a world-class shot by a world-class sniper.
“Going into overtime, you’re a shot or a breakaway away,” Trotz said. “All that being said, it was a special play by Panarin. There’s very few people who can make that shot. And he made that shot.”
It was a difficult defeat for a team that was desperate to get off to a strong start in its own building. But this ‘L’ wasn’t about goaltending. It was about taking pointless penalties at the wrong time—and the Blue Jackets taking advantage of those avoidable miscues.
In fact, one could argue that Grubauer was the Caps' best player in the second period as Panarin and Co. peppered him with high-quality scoring opportunities.
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As much of a gut-punch as the loss was, however, Grubauer said he and his teammates must turn the page. And quickly.
“You've got to be able to do that because nobody's walking through to the Stanley Cup with no losses,” he said. “You lose one and you learn from that and maybe you guys realize, ‘OK we've got to do something different.’”
Grubauer added: “It's not as easy as it is in the regular season. It basically is like an overtime game in the regular season for 60 minutes. That's what it is. When you lose a game—you want to win the game—but you've got to learn from it and you've got to take some positives out. In order to be better, you need to see the negatives and you need to make mistakes and hopefully get better and learn from it.”
Sure, Grubi's .852 save percentage in Game 1 sounds ugly. But there were mitigating circumstances on each of the goals. And, based on Trotz’s comments, it doesn’t sound like there was a whole lot of hand-wringing as the coaches reviewed the tape and mulled whether to go back to Grubauer or make a change and start Braden Holtby.
“I’m going to go back with Grubi,” Trotz said flatly. “I have a lot of confidence in him.”