The Washington Capitals put Riley Sutter on NHL waivers on Monday as part of 15 Training Camp cuts. On Tuesday, Sutter cleared and joined Hershey Bears’ Training Camp. Then, on Thursday, the Capitals un-cut him and called him back up (joining Ethen Frank and Chase Priskie) to play against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
I was asked by a source if I ever recalled that happening before.
“No,” I said.
Sutter naturally scored the game-winning, shorthanded goal in what was one of those strange, cosmic plays you only see in the NHL preseason.
the game-winning goal for your viewing pleasure pic.twitter.com/82GuPV0sfJ
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 6, 2023
While on a late third-period power play trying to tie, Blue Jackets defenseman Adam Boqvist sent a drop pass… to no one. The Blue Jackets were changing and no one on the team seemed to have any urgency to solve the problem. The puck bounced off the side boards, sitting dangerously in Columbus’ zone just waiting to be stolen.
“I was kinda caught by surprise to be honest,” Sutter said after the game. “I didn’t think I was going to have that much time. No one from their team was really going for the puck. I think I heard [Lucas Johansen] or someone yelling ‘Go!’ and I just tried to get up there as quick as I could.”
So the 2023 Calder Cup champion lumbered down the ice, grabbed the loose puck, and raced in all alone on Blue Jackets’ goaltender Spencer Martin. Sutter’s initial shot from the wing was stopped. Fellow penalty-killing forward Connor McMichael raced into the zone too and got his hands on a rebound, shooting the puck from in-between (!!!) his legs. Martin made another save. Sutter then got his hands on the second rebound and scored.
The goal gave Sutter a two-point night; he also registered the primary assist on Beck Malenstyn’s first-period goal that gave the Capitals an initial 1-0 lead. He was the only Capitals player to have a multi-point night. He hoped it made an impression on team brass.
“That’s what we’re all here for,” Sutter said. “We’re all competing for a spot. I think any chance you have an opportunity to play in a game is your opportunity to show what you can do. I think everyone did a good job tonight.”
Sutter is unlikely to make the Capitals’ final roster with the team set down the middle with Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dylan Strome, and Nic Dowd. But his performance during Hershey’s Calder Cup run — the Bears’ fourth line was the team’s best in the postseason — and his yeoman’s work in the preseason may have earned him a chance for a call-up later in the year if the team has injuries.
“I like Suttsy getting called up and coming in,” Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery said. “I thought he was really, really solid.”
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