The Washington Capitals deployed goaltender Philipp Grubauer tonight, perhaps figuring that their team could out-score any mistakes that a backup goaltender might make. They might have been correct, but along the way new Leaf Nikita Soshnikov showed the Caps what he could do.
Mike Babcock, playing with his new toys last Monday, liked Soshnikov's work so much that he rose from 3rd line to 1st swiftly. Deployed alongside Nazem Kadri again tonight, Soshnikov wristed a shot past Grubauer in the 2nd period for his first career NHL goal.
The three-on-two developed beautifully. Matt Hunwick made the initial play from the Leafs' defensive zone, passing it to Peter Holland, who managed to spring it free from Capitals' Justin Williams and back to Hunwick. Spotting Kadri skating through the neutral zone, Hunwick gave him the puck, and a three-on-two developed with Soshnikov, Kadri, and Holland skating in on Kadri's left.
Kadri looked to his right, however, and there Soshnikov was, right where he should be, and after the barest hesitation sent a heavy, confident wrist shot past a crouching Brooks Orpik to hit the bar and in on Grubauer's stick side.
I wonder who won the "which rookie scores first" betting pool?