The Washington Capitals gave Pheonix Copley his first NHL contract and now they have given him his first NHL start too, albeit indirectly.

A former Capitals prospect, Copley was part of the package the Caps sent to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for T.J. Oshie.

He made his brief NHL debut on Feb. 27, 2016 in a relief performance. After getting recalled from the Blues' AHL affiliate on Friday, he made his first NHL start for the Blues on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.

And he has the Caps to thank.


The Blues' goalie situation has been an issue all year. Jake Allen was expected to be the team's top netminder, but he has struggled all season with an .897 save percentage.

Carter Hutton is a serviceable backup, but is not good enough to carry quite the load St. Louis has needed from him this season thanks to Allen's struggles.

The sitiation finally came to a head on Thursday as Washington chased Allen twice in one game. 

Allen was pulled after Washington scored twice in the first period on just three shots. He was reinserted into the game after a 2:22 break, but was pulled again after the Caps' tallied their fourth goal of the game.

The game ended in a 7-3 blowout win for Washington and highlighted that head coach Ken Hitchcock needed to do something to fix the team's goaltending woes. His solution? Copley was recalled and started in Saturday's game in Winnipeg while Allen remains in St. Louis for the team's three-game road swing.


It may have been only a matter of time before Copley got the call up with Allen struggling in net, but it's safe to say Washington's thrashing of the Blues resulted in his first NHL start.