PHILADELPHIA | Philipp Grubauer made his NHL debut Wednesday night and stopped all 14 shots he faced in relief of Braden Holtby in the Washington Capitals’ 4-1 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Caps’ top goaltending prospect, recalled from the Hershey Bears earlier in the day because Michal Neuvirth was sick, replaced Holtby after the starter gave up four goals on 18 shots.
“It was a dream come true,” Grubauer said. “I dreamed about this since I started playing hockey. It was amazing. I try to step up and give those guys confidence and show the organization that I can do something as well.”
Grubauer naturally had to settle himself down when he came into the game with 5:05 left in the second period.
“Well of course I was nervous the first time, but once the puck drops it’s every other game,” he said. “It’s like every other game in the AHL. I couldn’t really prepare for it.”
Grubauer drew plenty of praise from teammates after his debut.
“Grubby came in and did an outstanding job, so it’s good to see him get some action,” Holtby said. “He looked calm. He stopped the bleeding to give us a chance to come back. He did great.”
Holtby didn’t question coach Adam Oates for yanking him from the game, especially after allowing Max Talbot to score one he should have stopped.
“I think he did the right thing,” the 23-year-old goalie said. “Obviously, four goals down, you want a spark, and that’s a goal I can’t give up on the fourth one. You have to expect that to come. Obviously you never want to leave a game; I’d love to finish every game, but at that point you’re looking for a spark.”
Oates said before the game that it was his plan to start Neuvirth. But he didn’t fault Holtby for the loss.
“Neuvy was in my mind to get the start tonight based on schedule, but I think that was the team tonight,” Oates said. “It wasn’t Holts.”
Holtby was making his eighth straight start. He was 5-2 in the previous seven and stopped 207 of 221 shots during that stretch. Wednesday he couldn’t save the Caps.
“Just like everybody, he’s gonna take his lumps, too,” Oates said. “You’ve got to bounce back for Winnipeg.”