WASHINGTON — On Sunday, Philipp Grubauer blanked the Anaheim Ducks' American Hockey League affiliate for the Hershey Bears.
Five days later, he was called up by the Washington Capitals to face the Ducks themselves. No shutout this time, just an important win.
Grubauer stopped 23 shots in his first NHL action of the season, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom scored shootout goals, and the Capitals defeated the Ducks 3-2 for their third straight victory.
After Alex Ovechkin, Washington's third shooter, failed to score, Anaheim had a chance to extend the game. But Grubauer stopped Ryan Kesler.
"It was a pretty good experience," said Grubauer, who will return to Hershey. "I was really, really happy I got a chance to play against the No. 1 team in the league right now. It was a really good challenge for us today."
The 23-year-old Grubauer is 16-9-4 with four shutouts and a 2.03 goals-against average for Hershey this season, including Sunday's 2-0 win against Norfolk. He appeared in 17 games for the Capitals last season, going 6-5-5 with a 2.38 goals against.
"He played quite well," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "He has played a lot of games very well, and that is why we want to see him. It was important organizationally."
Washington's Justin Peters, Braden Holtby's usual backup, is 2-5-1 with a 3.58 GAA, primarily in the second of back-to-back games. His last win came Nov. 8.
Jason Chimera had a goal and an assist in regulation, and Kuznetsov added two assists for Washington, which moved ahead of the New York Rangers for third place in the Metropolitan Division.
John Carlson gave Washington a 2-1 lead at 10:44 of the third period, but Corey Perry tied it with 6:15 left when he banked a shot from a tough angle in off Grubauer's skate for his 23rd goal. That forced overtime for teams who had both played and won Thursday night.
"We outshot them 10-6 (in the first period)," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "But once they started to gain momentum, I think we were on our heels for most of the game until they got the lead and we started to play to win rather than play not to lose."
Kesler had a goal and an assist for Anaheim, the NHL points leader, which had won eight of 10.
Jakob Silfverberg scored the Ducks' lone shootout goal.
Ilya Bryzgalov had 32 saves for Anaheim, which was without captain Ryan Getzlaf, out for the second straight game with a lower-body injury.
Anaheim took a 1-0 lead with 1:45 left in the first period. With Ovechkin off for interference and Anaheim in the Capitals' zone, Washington defenseman Karl Alzner lost his stick. Forward Eric Fehr gave Alzner his, but before the Capitals could get a stoppage, Kesler wristed a high shot past Grubauer from the left circle for his 15th goal.
The Capitals tied it early in the second. As Ben Lovejoy was carrying the puck out of the Anaheim end, Troy Brouwer, who was down on the ice, swung his stick and knocked the puck away from Lovejoy just inside the blue line.
It rolled to Kuznetsov and he skated in two-on-none with Chimera, who took a pass and fired past Bryzgalov.
"That second line (Chimera-Kuznetsov-Brouwer), they had the puck a lot and they were generating chances," Washington's Matt Niskanen said. "It's nice to see them get rewarded."
The Ducks goalie preserved the tie on a Washington power play late in the second, stopping Ovechkin on a point-blank attempt and making a sprawling save against Brouwer, who had taken a pass behind the defense.
Bryzgalov rebounded from his most recent start, when he was pulled in the second period Jan. 29, giving up six goals in a row in a 6-3 loss at San Jose.
"He kept us in it," Anaheim's Nate Thompson said. "We would have liked to have gotten two points, but because of (Bryzgalov) we got (at least) one, so it was a big game for him."
NOTES: Anaheim (23-0-7) has yet to lose a one-goal game in regulation. . To make room for Grubauer, the Capitals re-assigned rookie forward Andre Burakovsky to Hershey. ... Mike Green (lower body) was a late scratch for Washington. He was involved in a leg-on-leg collision with Ottawa's Chris Phillips on Thursday night. ... With Getzlaf sidelined, the Ducks recalled C William Karlsson from Norfolk of the AHL.
All content copyright ©2015 Daily Journal, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.