As the Washington Capitals embark on the second game of a Metropolitan back-to-back against the Carolina Hurricanes, T.J. Oshie is questionable and Ilya Samsonov will make his return to the pipes.
Head coach Peter Laviolette spoke with reporters prior to the game, saying that the team was still “working through things” with regard to No. 77 and his status for Friday’s tilt, per Mike Vogel. Oshie suffered a lower-body injury in Thursday’s dominant 7-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets and skated just three shifts in the third period. His final shift was 19 seconds long, and he appeared to not be putting too much weight on his left foot.
Meanwhile, Ilya Samsonov will get the second game of the back-to-back after Vitek Vanecek stopped 39 of 41 shots a night prior against CBJ. This will be Samsonov’s first game since March 9 against the Edmonton Oilers, where he stopped 36 of 40 shots (.900 save percentage) en route to a 4-3 overtime loss. It will be a vital game for him with the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline just days away and the Capitals reportedly still watching the goalie market.
Samsonov’s season hasn’t gone according to plan; he signed a one-year bridge deal over the summer while looking to exceed expectations and take control of the crease. However, he has not been able to find consistency and has gone 17-9-4 with a .901 save percentage and 2.96 GAA.
When it comes to the lines, given the Capitals’ Thursday night victory, don’t expect changes unless T.J. Oshie can’t play. In that case, Mike Vecchione will draw in as the 12th forward, as he’s the only extra up front. Vecchione has yet to make his Capitals debut and has played in two NHL games. It would be NHL game since April 9, 2017, which ironically came against the Carolina Hurricanes. Prior to his call-up, the 29-year-old forward ranked second in scoring on the AHL’s Hershey Bears with 36 points.
With Vecchione drawing in, expect a potential change to that second line.
Here were the lines for Thursday’s tilt:
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Conor Sheary
Anthony Mantha-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Daniel Sprong-Connor McMichael-Tom Wilson
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Martin Fehervary-John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen
Trevor van Riemsdyk-Justin Schultz
Players to watch include Anthony Mantha, who has three goals in his last two games and five points in seven games since returning to the lineup, as well as Evgeny Kuznetsov, who hit the 20-goal and 60-point mark on Thursday and is riding a seven-game point streak. Alex Ovechkin also remains red-hot.
As for the Canes, who sit atop the Metropolitan Division, look out for Sebastian Aho, who has three goals in his last four games and points in five of his last six overall. He leads Carolina with 61 points in 57 games this season.