The Washington Capitals rolled into Detroit on Thursday night looking to beat down a downtrodden opponent. I say, good riddance. It took nearly sixty minutes, but Washington did just that.
Here’s Thursday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Goalie Philipp Grubauer pitched his third shutout of the season, and is that reliable friend from your childhood that you miss.
Minus: Goalie interference remains a thing we are talking about. More on that below.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
1. It’s important to set realistic goalies for yourself. Sorry-....I’m being told that’s goals. Well, the Capitals did the former on Thursday night, calling up Hershey netminder Pheonix Copley, The Man Whose Name Strikes Fear In Copy Editors’ Hearts. A Dallas Stars player fell on starter Braden Holtby’s leg in the third period on Tuesday, and the Holtbeast is apparently still “tweaked” enough to warrant the emergency call up. With Philipp Grubauer getting the start tonight, how would the Capitals’ back end fare?
2. Still out of the line-up but at least traveling with the team was darling Russian dazzler Evgeny Kuznetsov. Still nursing an injury to his arm, The Boy Who Scored was replaced for the third straight game by rookie Travis Boyd. Could Boyd fill the void?
3. Andreas Athanasiou got the scoring started for Detroit, circling around the back of the net and firing a snipe past Grubauer from the left circle. OR SO HE THOUGHT, because the ugly horse-faced spectre of GOALTENDER INTERFERENCE reared its ugly head. Well, in this case, its head was gorgeous and sexy, because upon review the goal came off the board, and the contest remained tied.
4. Later in the first, an awful turnover at the blue line (stop me if you’ve heard this one) led to a Detroit breakaway the other direction. But a hard-charging back-checking Lars Eller delivered a critical stick lift at the last moment that kept this one tied and kept Caps fans sane.
5. The first period ended scoreless, thanks in no small part to the utterly stellar play of of Herr Philipp Grubauer who saved all 13 shots the Red Wings flung at him in the first frame.
6. The second period was much of the same, with Detroit hurling everything but the Little Caesar’s Deep Dish pizza at Grubauer. But halfway through the period, things got serious. T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller simultaneously took minor penalties, and the Capitals had to kill a super-rare-but-not-valuable 2-minute 5-on-3 power play. Thanks to Phil the Thrill, they successfully did so, and snatched momentum from the Wings.
7. The second frame ended with Detroit leading the shots 28-22, but not leading where it counts: on the scoreboard, and in our hearts.
8. In the third period, someone FINALLY broke through the dam, and fortunately, it was the Capitals! Jakub Vrana and Brett Connolly got magically loose on a 2-on-0, and the Czech fed the Canadian for a textbook snipe. The goal was the 15th on the season for Brett The Threat, and matches The Con Man’s single-season career-high, which he set last year. Great job, 10!
9. With time dwindling and hope failing, the Red Wings pulled Jimmy Howard, but it didn’t matter, and Washington held on for the 1-0 victory! Grubauer pitched a 36-save shutout, his third, and the Caps’ third, of the year. Stir that goalie controversy pot, young blood.
10. With the loss, the Detroit Red Wings are officially eliminated from playoff contention for the second straight season, and just the second time in 27 years. Don’t let the door hit ya on the tuchus, Wings.
The Capitals ride an ugly game to a W, and take a juicy two points in the division race. Next up is the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.