Tuesday's match-up of Grubauer and the Islanders' Thomas Greiss marked the first time two German-born goaltenders have faced one another in an NHL regular season game. Grubauer and Greiss did go head-to-head in a preseason game leading up to the start of the 2015-16 NHL season.
Asked whether the game carried any added significance because of the dual German netminders, Grubauer initially downplayed it.
Video: WSH@NYI: Grubauer denies Nelson in front
"No, it's like any other game," says the Washington netminder. "I don't think it made a difference to him or to us. It was nice to see a German goalie play against another one, and it's always good for German hockey. But it's just another game."
Back To Work - With the league's four-day All-Star break in the rear view, the NHL turned the lights back on Tuesday. Fourteen games were on the docket, including the Caps' visit to Brooklyn to face the New York Islanders for the fifth and final time this season.
The Caps started well enough, netting the game's first goal at 4:41 of the first when Evgeny Kuznetsov scored from the slot off the rush. But Washington was never able to add to that lead, and it eventually absorbed a 3-2 loss.
Video: WSH@NYI: Kuznetsov splits defense, opens scoring
The Caps had some good early chances to go up by more than a goal, but the Isles pulled even on a power-play strike in the second. Heading into the third, it was anyone's game, and there wasn't much real estate to be found in the middle of the ice at either end.
Early in the third, New York forced a turnover in the Washington zone and capitalized on the opportunity, taking a 2-1 lead on Ryan Strome's goal at 6:31. Washington had chances to get the equalizer, but missed the net on some of its best looks.
"That was probably their best chance of the game and they scored on it," rues Caps winger Daniel Winnik of Strome's goal.
Caps goalie Philipp Grubauer was sharp as usual, but he embraced blame for the Strome goal afterwards. The shot beat him through the five-hole as he moved laterally to try to stop the back door tap in.
"I think on the second one, I've got to make a save there," says Grubauer. "It was a bad goal at the wrong time that cost us today, I thought. We played pretty good in the first [period] and in the second, I don't think we stepped on the gas too much. I thought they outbattled us a little bit, but it's first game back after a break. We've got another one [Wednesday]."
Video: Trotz talks after a 3-2 loss to the Islanders
"We had some good looks," says Caps coach Barry Trotz. "You talk about finish; we had a couple of good looks. Our [defensemen] came in from the point a few times and we had some really good looks, and we put it over the net and stuff like that. We've just got to dial in our finish a little bit."
Johnny Boychuk's empty-net goal made it 3-1 for the Isles with 68 seconds remaining, but the Caps again closed within one on Alex Ovechkin's center point blast with the extra attacker in the game's final minute.
Sawbuck - Kuznetsov's goal was his 10th of the season, giving the Capitals eight skaters with double-digit goal totals this season. That ties Washington with the Minnesota Wild for most players with at least 10 goals on the season.
Climbing The Ladder - Ovechkin's last-minute goal on Tuesday is the 549th of his NHL career, tying him with Hockey Hall of Famer (and fellow member of the NHL's 100 Greatest Players) Ron Francis for 27th on the league's all-time list.
Video: WSH@NYI: Ovechkin beats Greiss with a one-timer
Ovechkin ranks third among active NHL players in goals, trailing only Florida's Jaromir Jagr (758) and Colorado's Jarome Iginla (617).
Grand Man - Ex-Caps winger Jason Chimera skated in his 999th career NHL game on Tuesday for the Islanders, doing so against his former Washington teammates. Chimera is now poised to reach the coveted 1,000-game mark on Friday at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.
Digging Out - Coming off consecutive 100-point seasons for the first time in more than three decades, the Islanders got off to an abysmal start to the season with just six wins in their first 20 games (6-10-4). When the Caps previously visited Brooklyn on Dec. 27, the Isles seemed to be all but dead and buried in the Eastern Conference and Metropolitan Division standings. They were a dozen points south of the final playoff berth in the Conference at that point, but Tuesday's win over Washington leaves the Isles just three points behind Philadelphia for the final playoff berth. New York holds three games in hand on the Flyers.
But New York is now 6-0-1 in its last seven after Tuesday's win, and it is 5-0-1 since Doug Weight took over from Jack Capuano behind the Islanders' bench. Early in the season, the Isles were having difficulty late in games, but they've been better in the final frame of late.
"Ever since probably the New Year, we've felt pretty good," says Strome. "We're starting to feel more confident in ourselves. It's good when you're winning games. We just beat Montreal and Columbus, so in the third period you really have no nerves. I think that's the strength of our team; we're pretty poised. Right now things are going good for us. You have to feel good and we're going to get results."
Three of Washington's last five regulation losses have come against the Islanders, and in two of those three games, the score was tied after 40 minutes of play.
"There is a little bit of a buzz, some positive energy, and I think that's contagious," says Isles center Brock Nelson. "The guys are happy with everything that's going on in the locker room, and it's pretty easy to just relax, have fun and go out there and play hockey. Good things seem to happen when that happens."
By The Numbers - Matt Niskanen led the Caps with 22:30 in ice time and five shots on net … Ovechkin led Washington with seven shot attempts … Tom Wilson led the Caps with four hits … Marcus Johansson and John Carlson led the Capitals with a pair of blocked shots each.