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Grubauer gets call in goal for Capitals

Washington would clinch playoff berth with win against Sharks

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

CAPITALS (49-13-5) at SHARKS (37-24-6)

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET; CSN-DC+, CSN-CA, NHL.TV

SAN JOSE -- Backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer will make his 13th start of the season for the Washington Capitals when they face the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Saturday.

The Capitals will try to become the first NHL team this season to clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth, which they would do with a win Saturday. They would also secure a berth with a point and a regulation loss Saturday by the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Capitals also are looking to tie a franchise record with their 24th road win of the season, set in 2009-10, when Washington won the Presidents' Trophy.

Grubauer is 8-5-1 with a 2.02 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. No. 1 goaltender Braden Holtby started three of the past four games and gave up four goals on 30 shots Wednesday in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. He's 41-8-4 with a 2.25 GAA and .922 save percentage.

"Grubauer's been great," forward T.J. Oshie said after the Capitals morning skate at SAP Center. "Probably not the record that he deserves. He's stepped in some games and stole some big points for us. Hopefully tonight we can give him a better showing and support him a little bit more. But with Holtby and him, it's a very good one-two punch, and we're comfortable with either in the net."

Grubauer, a rookie, will make his first start since allowing one goal on 34 shots in a 2-1 overtime victory against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on March 5. He has won three of his past four starts, including a 39-save gem in a 3-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 16 at Verizon Center.

"I'm happy with my game right now, how I progressed since the start of the season," Grubauer said. "Guys keep the shots to the outside for me so I'm happy with that. I'm working hard with [goaltending coach] Mitch [Korn] and you can see the progress."

The Sharks are coming off a 3-0 loss Thursday at home against the New Jersey Devils and backup goaltender Keith Kinkaid, who made 30 saves.

Based on his team's morning skate at Sharks Ice, coach Peter DeBoer likely will shuffle his lines against Washington. Forward Melker Karlsson moved from the fourth line to the second line and skated with center Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi.

Matt Nieto moved from the second to the third line, bumping Nick Spaling to the fourth line.

"I think we needed maybe a little change after last game," Karlsson said. "We didn't get it going and now he's just going to try something different."

Couture left the morning skate a few minutes before it ended after apparently being hit by a puck, but Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said he expects Couture to play.

"I think he's fine," DeBoer said.

Goaltender Martin Jones, who had won four straight games before losing against New Jersey, will start for San Jose.

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Tom Wilson

Daniel Winnik - Mike Richards - Jay Beagle

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik - Dmitry Orlov

Mike Weber - Nate Schmidt

Philipp Grubauer

Braden Holtby

Injured: Michael Latta (illness), John Carlson (lower body)

Scratched: Taylor Chorney, Stanislov Galiev


Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Melker Karlsson - Logan Couture - Joonas Donskoi

Matt Nieto - Patrick Marleau - Joel Ward

Nick Spaling - Chris Tierney - Dainius Zubrus

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon - Roman Polak

Martin Jones

James Reimer

Injured: Tommy Wingels (sprained shoulder), Matt Tennyson (head)

Scratched: Dylan DeMelo, Micheal Haley

Status report: The Sharks called up Haley from the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League. ... Schmidt is expected to return to the lineup after being scratched against the Kings.

Who's hot: Oshie scored a goal and added an assist against the Kings. He has seven points (3-4-7) in his past six games. ... Burns has nine points (4-5-9) in his past six games. ... Thornton has eight points (1-7-8) in his past seven games. ... Niskanen has two game-winning goals in his past five games.

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