The Washington Capitals have returned home for two straight in their first-round series against the Florida Panthers. Making his own return elsewhere will be goaltender Zach Fucale.
The Caps announced Friday afternoon that Fucale is on his way back to the Hershey Bears. With the series now in DC, the need for a third goalie on the roster has lessened and the Bears begin their own playoff series with a Friday/Saturday back-to-back against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
— x – Washington Capitals (@Capitals) May 6, 2022
Pheonix Copley has been the main guy in net for the Bears down the stretch but it will not hurt to have back the only goalie in Hershey’s 84-year history to ever record three straight shutout wins.
Before his most recent recall for Game One and Two, Fucale had been with Hershey in the AHL since making a January 10 appearance for the Caps against the Boston Bruins. He is 11-15-5 in the AHL this year with a 2.62 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage.
On the Caps side of things goaltending-wise, it’s still up in the air about who will get the start in Game Three. Vitek Vanecek had a superb first game but was straight-up bad in moments during Game Two. Ilya Samsonov went 17-for-17 in his relief appearance and got praise from head coach Peter Laviolette postgame.
Here’s the full press release from the team on Fucale’s demotion:
Capitals Re-assign Zach Fucale to Hershey
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have re-assigned goaltender Zach Fucale to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL), senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.
Fucale, 26, posted a record of 1-1-1 with one shutout, a 1.75 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in four games for the Capitals this season. The 6’2″, 189-pound goaltender became the first goaltender in franchise history to record a shutout in his NHL debut when he stopped all 21 shots against the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 11 at Little Caesars Arena.
In his second career NHL start on Jan. 8 against the Minnesota Wild, the Laval, Quebec, native broke a Washington franchise record for the longest shutout streak by a goaltender from the start of a tenure with the franchise in the first period, besting Cristobal Huet’s mark of 80:36. In the second period, he broke the NHL record for the longest career-opening shutout sequence. Fucale’s streak ended at 138 minutes and 17 seconds, beating Matt Hackett’s (Minnesota) mark of 102:48 set in 2011.
In 31 games with the Bears this season, Fucale posted a record of 11-15-5 with a 2.62 goals-against average and a .896 save percentage.
During the 2020-21 season, Fucale led the AHL in goals-against average (1.80) and ranked second in save percentage (.932), establishing career highs in both categories. Fucale played the most games (11) he has played at the AHL level since the 2017-18 season, posting a 9-2-0 record. Fucale’s nine wins were tied for eighth in the AHL, while his two losses were the fewest among goaltenders with at least 660 minutes played. Fucale and Pheonix Copley received the AHL’s Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award, presented to the goaltenders on the team which allows the fewest goals per game in the regular season. In 90 career AHL games, Fucale has a 43-36-6 record with a 2.88 goals-against average and .902 save percentage.
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