Fucale dazzles with shutout in NHL debut in Detroit

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 11: Detroit Red Wings center Robby Fabbri (14) cant stuff the puck past Washington Capitals goaltender Zach Fucale (60) during the game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Washington Capitals on Thursday November 11, 2021 at Little Caesars Arena Center in Detroit, MI. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

More than eight years after being drafted, Zach Fucale finally made himself known in the NHL world. In his debut last night, Fucale shutout the Detroit Red Wings for a 2-0 Washington victory.

Fucale became the first Capitals goalie to earn a shutout in their debut, and the first in the NHL to do so in six years. Fucale’s parents were on hand at Little Caesars Arena, being notified of his debut the day before. His father sported a Hershey Bears jacket and their celebration is something we will probably see on a commercial for the NHL soon.

The emotions were unavoidable from Fucale, giving a post game interview that may be the most relatable mood I’ve ever seen.

Having bounced around numerous junior and minor league hockey teams, the fact that Fucale was starting was surprising enough. His performance shattered all expectations as Washington beat a Detroit team that bested them in D.C. just two weeks ago.

The decision to give Fucale the start was in order to give Vitek Vanecek a maintenance day. Vanecek had started the last 4 games for Washington.

The Caps defense was strong in front of Fucale, blocking an additional 15 Red Wings shots. Fucale made some impressive saves in the first period, easily his busiest frame. Fucale denied a Filip Zadina backhand off a semi-breakaway less than three minutes into the game. That save was an early sign that Fucale was about to have a great night.

Offensively, Washington scored their two goals 10 seconds apart. Dmitry Orlov ripped a slap shot from the top of the left circle to beat Thomas Greiss on the short side. Ten seconds later, Lars Eller scored his first goal of the season. Eller took advantage of a neutral-zone turnover and snuck one through to double the lead.

These two goals were the fastest the Caps have scored since Alex Semin and Sergei Fedorov tallied nine seconds apart in 2009. That was all the offense Washington needed as Detroit would manage just 11 shots on goal the rest of the game.

With an offense that continues to be banged up, this is a performance the Caps needed. With two divisional showdowns upcoming, followed by a four-game road trip out west, Washington will need production from everyone on the roster.

Fucale’s debut might just be his 15 minutes of fame. But I would be stunned if Laviolette doesn’t give him another start to see how he can follow it up. This game is certainly the highlight of the season thus far.

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