Philipp Grubauer. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

When Philipp Grubauer allowed a goal he shouldn’t have in his last start, he didn’t make excuses. He called it a “gift,” taking responsibility for his mistake. When it happened again on Saturday night in the Washington Capitals’ 4-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues, Grubauer was again honest in his self-evaluation.

“It shouldn’t happen,” he said. “It shouldn’t go in.”

That goal came from the high slot, as Colton Parayko went from one end of the ice to the other. Shortly after he entered the Capitals’ zone, he unfurled his shot, sending the puck between defensemen Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen. Grubauer had left his five-hole exposed, and the puck got through his legs.

That gave the Blues a 2-0 lead, and St. Louis poured it on from there. After the game, Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said “the second goal sort of, you know, changed the whole deal.” For Grubauer, it was a second straight start that he allowed a bad goal, and when you’re a backup who doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to rebound, these are the goals that sting.

“I don’t want to blame it on that,” Grubauer said. “Yeah, it’s going to be a little bit tougher to rebound of course. I don’t want to let in four goals, that’s for sure. I want to keep the zero out there. It’s not that easy. Just got to move on and move to the next game. We have a big task in front of us this year.”

In his last start at the San Jose Sharks earlier this month, Grubauer also allowed four goals in a 5-2 loss, but it was the go-ahead goal that he called “a gift” after the game, failing to seal the post.

With Alzner and Niskanen in front of him on the second goal on Saturday night, Grubauer was asked if his vision was obstructed, and though he admitted it “was a little bit tough to see,” he also said he saw enough of the shot to have been able to stop it. “It wasn’t too close and he wasn’t too far away,” he said.

“Guys did a good job keeping everything to the outside, like every game,” Grubauer said. “The one in the second period there, the second goal through the five-hole shouldn’t happen. I mean, they had some good chances. They’re a good team. They’re pretty good off the rush, a speed team. I think we did a really good job in the first period and then the last period, limiting their chances basically.”

Though Grubauer was strong in the first period, making eight saves, and many from close range, the second period was what sunk Washington. Defensive lapses, by Grubauer and also the coverage in front of him, led to three goals on 16 shots against. Trotz said Grubauer would probably want the second goal of the game back, but it was no worse than the turnover by defenseman Dmitry Orlov that led to the first goal.

 

With two sets of back-to-back games remaining in the regular season, Grubauer will likely get two more starts, and he’s been a good backup overall, with an 8-7-1 record, a .920 save percentage and a 2.30 goals-against average.

“He can’t let them in,” Trotz said. “That’ll be a conversation with [goaltending coach Mitch Korn], and he knows. The worst part about being a goaltender is when you let a bad goal in, everybody in the building knows. You make a bad play as a defenseman or a forward, you can hide. A goaltender usually is your eraser. You know, it’s no different our defenseman turning the puck over on that first goal. We had three guys guy, and they had one forechecker – that should not happen. That absolutely shouldn’t happen. That should be an easy exit and no goal against, and we need to clean that area up or that person needs to clean that area up.”