One day after advancing into the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Washington Capitals solved their three-goalie situation by returning Philipp Grubauer to their American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey, paving the way for Justin Peters to open as the backup for Braden Holtby on Thursday against the New York Rangers.

Summoned to start Game 2 while Holtby battled a stomach flu, Grubauer stopped 18 of 21 shots in the Capitals’ come-from-behind 4-3 victory that evened the series. The Capitals had chosen Grubauer over Peters because he had played most recently, anchoring the Bears’ divisional chase in the minors, while Peters had last started on Feb. 15. He became the fifth rookie in franchise history to win his first playoff start.

“I can’t put myself in those shoes,” Coach Barry Trotz said after the game. “That’s the great trait of a goalie is that you’re not overwhelmed by the moment or the situation. That’s what I liked about Philipp is he came in and played and did a good job.”

Thanks to his win, the Capitals felt Grubauer deserved to stay for the remainder of the series, but keeping him also ensured their clear emergency option was on the roster. Accordingly, Grubauer dressed for Games 3-7 while Peters watched from the press box. Now, with a new series starting, the Capitals wiped the slate clean, proceeding with two goaltenders and knowing Grubauer is only a few hours away if needed.

This is all clear cut compared to the situation Grubauer will enter in Hershey. During the regular season, his 27 wins tied for third in the AHL and his .921 save percentage ranked eighth. But with Grubauer in the NHL, backup Pheonix Copley delivered two road wins at Worcester in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs, making 41 saves in Game 1 and 33 saves in Game 2, allowing just one goal both nights. Now, Coach Troy Mann has a decision on his hands for Wednesday’s Game 3 in Hershey; the Bears have three home games to clinch in the unusual 2-3 format. Choosing between two proven No. 1 options, though, isn’t an awful problem to have.

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