Washington Capitals netminder Zach Fucale has not only been stellar between the pipes to start his NHL career, but he’s etching his name in the history books at the same time.
The 26-year-old goaltender took time on social media to react to the first three games of his NHL career, sharing a tweet to pay tribute to his followers.
“Never thought the first few games would go down like this,” Fucale tweeted. “Thanks everyone for your encouragements. It’s on to the next.”
Never thought the first few games would go down like this. Thanks everyone for your encouragements. It’s on to the next.
Je n’avais pas imaginé ce scénario là! Merci pour vos messages d’encouragements! On passe au prochain match.
— Zach Fucale (@Fucale31) January 9, 2022
The road to the NHL has been a long one for Fucale, who was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NHL Draft by Montreal. He played for 13 different clubs in four different leagues: the QMJHL, ECHL, DEL and AHL, in the last eight years. The Quebec native finally got his first game back in November, starting for the Capitals in Detroit.
He made that Nov. 11 game a historic one, becoming the first netminder in franchise history to record a shutout in his NHL debut with a 21-save performance against the Wings. He returned to D.C. for the team’s back-to-back road swing against St. Louis and Minnesota as Vitek Vanecek battled a non-COVID illness.
On Friday in St. Louis, Fucale took over for Ilya Samsonov in the third period after Samsonov surrendered four goals on 16 shots. He stopped all seven shots against and earned the nod the next day in Minnesota.
Against the Wild, Fucale continued to put on a show, and ultimately, set an NHL all-time record. He allowed no goals through the first 138:07 minutes of his career, the longest period in NHL history. Former Minnesota netminder Matt Hackett had owned the record with 102:48 minutes in 2011, and Fucale passed it at the 3:43 mark of the second period.
Fucale had no idea he broke that record — or was even approaching it.
“They just told me about that. That’s incredible, I did not know that. That’s wild,” Fucale added. “It’s a good quality night. But I’m mad at myself at that goal, that’s a tough goal to give. Just another little experience I got to learn from.”
He also put up a save-of-the-year candidate with an unbelievable sprawling blocker save to rob Ryan Hartman at the start of overtime on a clear-cut 2-on-1.
“I was a think a little overpatient on the shot and made a nice pass. I was beat, I just tried to get something across and it just hit me,” Fucale said.
Fucale just makes the Save of the Year to rob Hartman in OT. pic.twitter.com/c8Lz8nYZSi
— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 9, 2022
He also explained that he didn’t change his approach at all.
“No nothing different. I try to pride myself on just trying to redo the same things over and over and I think that creates a level for me to know I’m prepared if I just do the same things over and over. I felt pretty sharp.”