WASHINGTON — It's usually 1 a.m. in Germany when goaltender Philipp Grubauer starts for the Capitals, his parents, Peter and Susi, dutifully staying up late to watch him. On Friday, they had seats in the Verizon Center and saw Grubauer start an NHL game in person for the first time. And it was on his 25th birthday.
The day was made sweeter for them with Grubauer's 32-save outing that lifted the Capitals to a 3-1 win over the Sabres.
"When the puck drops, it's all business," Grubauer said. "But it's pretty special for me. It's one of my favorite moments."
Marcus Johansson, Daniel Winnik and former Lightning forward Brett Connolly scored to help Washington close a five-game homestand with its fourth win.
With No. 1 goalie Braden Holtby resting for today's game at Toronto, Grubauer made 26 saves after the first intermission. "He played really well, (and) we played well in front of him," coach Barry Trotz said
Sam Reinhart's third-period goal helped Buffalo's league-worst offense avoid being shut out for the third this time this season. The Sabres average 1.81 goals.
Game highlights: Patrick Marleau scored with 22.5 seconds left and the host Sharks rebounded after allowing the tying goal in the closing minute to win their third straight, 3-2 over the Islanders. Marleau got his 94th career winning goal, tying him with Lightning GM Steve Yzerman for ninth on the league list. … Charlie Coyle scored twice in the first period as the host Wild matched its season high for goals, and Nino Niederreiter had two of the Wild's three power-play goals in a 6-2 rout of the Penguins. … Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, and the Blackhawks hung on to beat the host Ducks 3-2. Chicago snapped a two-game skid without captain Jonathan Toews, out with an upper-body injury. … Matt Puempel scored in his first game with the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist made 40 saves as New York beat the host Flyers 3-2. … Mike Green scored at 3:18 of overtime to give the Red Wings a 5-4 win over the host Devils.