The Washington Capitals are looking to keep the good times rolling as they close out a back-to-back series in Alberta with a showdown against the Edmonton Oilers.
Given their three-game winning streak, the Capitals are again sticking with what worked, not making any changes to their forward lines or defense pairings. However, Vitek Vanecek will get the night off after three straight starts and another win on Tuesday. Instead, Ilya Samsonov will get the start and play in his first game since Feb. 28, per head coach Peter Laviolette.
Samsonov had taken the reins as Washington’s starter back in February when Vanecek went down with an upper-body injury that held him out for a few weeks. The 26-year-old had some strong showings mixed in with off nights. Ultimately, his tenure as the starter came to an end when Vanecek, who was backing up in his return from injury, relieved him after a tough first period against the Toronto Maple Leafs where Samsonov let in three goals on 10 shots.
In 32 games this season, Samsonov is 17-9-3 with a .901 save percentage and 2.93 GAA, along with three shutouts. For what it’s worth, Samsonov has been impressive on the road this season with a .914 SV% away from Capital One Arena.
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With a win, the Capitals could tie the Boston Bruins for the first Wild Card spot in the East. Washington still sits in second with 71 points, 11 points up on the next-place Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Capitals are also again on milestone watch. Alex Ovechkin had a historic two-goal outing in Calgary to tie Jaromir Jagr for third on the NHL’s all-time goals list, and he could pass him on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Nicklas Backstrom picked up a helper in the win over the Flames and is now two points away from 1,000 in his career. The two skated in their 1,000th career game together on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Edmonton is looking to get back into playoff position. The Oilers are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games and have dropped their last three, and they are three points out of Wild Card position, and four points back from the Vegas Golden Knights, who are third in the Pacific.
Here are the projected lines:
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Tom Wilson
Anthony Mantha-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Connor McMichael-Lars Eller-Conor Sheary
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Martin Fehervary-John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen
Trevor van Riemsdyk-Justin Schultz