It was a night that started with a tribute ceremony to goaltender Braden Holtby, the 2015-16 Vezina Trophy winner who recently recorded his 150th win.
But the night ended with a celebration for a different goaltender, backup Philipp Grubauer, who recorded his first career shutout in the Washington Capitals’ 3-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Grubauer, who faced just 18 shots, didn’t see too much action during Tuesday’s game, but the lighter workload meant his team was clicking.
“Not too many [shots] in the first couple of minutes,” Grubauer said. “But, what can I say? We did an amazing job, the whole team, at winning face offs, puck possession, playing in their zone. I don’t think we gave up too many scoring chances there in the middle. Everybody was blocking shots. Great job by everybody.”
This game marked Grubber’s first of the season. He played in 22 games last year, recording a .918 save percentage and a 2.32 goals against average. But Grubauer primarily played in the second of back-to-back games, late in road trips or in unfavorable matchups.
“I think last year, we hung him out to dry,” said forward T.J. Oshie, who had two goals in the win. “I’d say at least five of his games last year, we played terrible. And he might have even won us a couple of those.”
“He works so hard every day,” said forward Marcus Johansson, who recorded two assists. “I think every game he steps in there for us he’s playing really well. It was fun that we could help him get that win and then get the shutout.”
Grubauer became the 27th Capital goaltender in franchise history to record a shutout. His performance tonight showed the Capitals that they can rely on Grubauer in any situation.
“We have a lot of confidence in whoever is in the net back there,” Oshie said. “I think it’s great for Gruby to go out there, have a great game as he does a lot for us.”
“I thought he just looked very, very composed,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “There wasn’t any jitters or anything like that. I thought he was real, real sharp.”
It may have taken Grubauer — who won the Capitals’ “Will Over Skill” robe, given to the team’s player of the game — 43 games to get that one shutout, but he’s excited to finally get one.
But don’t think that will get to his head.
“It feels good,” Grubauer said. “It took me a long time, but next game is coming up, so [I have to] put that behind me and move on.”