WASHINGTON, D.C. — The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs are officially in D.C., as the Washington Capitals return home to host their first game of the postseason against the Florida Panthers. And with the series tied 1-1 and plenty at stake, the team isn’t shying away from change.
Washington is currently “working on some things in the room” and evaluating the lineup before puck drop. Head coach Peter Laviolette already announced one major switch: Ilya Samsonov will start Game 3 after Vitek Vanecek started Games 1 and 2.
The decision comes after a rough go-of-it for Vanecek back on Thursday. Vanecek was pulled after giving up five goals on 18 shots through the first 40 minutes of play. Samsonov came in for the third and stopped all 17 shots faced, and also looked strong. Washington ultimately dropped that decision 5-1, however.
“He came in and we didn’t play very well in front of him and he looked really good in there and comfortable,” head coach Peter Laviolette said of the switch. “Like we said before the series, it’s something that we’ve done this year is both goaltenders have had an opportunity and gone in and played well and so he jumped in off the bench. He did a really good job. And our team wasn’t quite on point and he was sharp.”
This will be Samsonov’s fifth career playoff appearance. He is still looking for his first career postseason victory.
READ MORE ON WHN: Capitals Switching Goalies For Game 3
With regard to the lineup, Laviolette played his cards close to the vest. Tom Wilson will not be available for Saturday’s matinee as he continues to deal with a lower-body injury. Wilson is still day-to-day. Without Wilson, it is unclear whether or not the Capitals will shuffle their forward lines. Washington has Connor McMichael and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby on hand, along with Brett Leason. Laviolette did say though, that he liked the way Washington played in Game 2, score aside.
Here are what the lines looked like back on Thursday:
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Conor Sheary
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Anthony Mantha-Lars Eller-Garnet Hathaway
Johan Larsson-Nic Dowd-Brett Leason
Martin Fehervary-John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen
Trevor van Riemsdyk-Justin Schultz
Meanwhile, Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette said that Florida will keep the same lineup. Sergei Bobrovsky has been a force to be reckoned with and will start again. Per Florida Hockey Now’s Colby Guy, here are what the lines have looked like for the Cats:
Carter Verhaeghe-Aleksander Barkov-Anthony Duclair
Jonathan Huberdeau-Sam Bennett-Sam Reinhart
Mason Marchment-Anton Lundell-Claude Giroux
Noel Acciari-Eetu Luostarinen-Patric Hornqvist
MacKenzie Weegar-Aaron Ekblad
Gustav Forsling-Radko Gudas
Ben Chiarot-Brandon Montour
When it comes to players to watch, look out for Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, who have points in back-to-back games to open the postseason. On the Panthers side of the matchup, watch for Jonathan Huberdeau and Mason Marchment, both of who were outstanding in Game 2.