Ilya Samsonov is turning the tide in the race for control of the Washington Capitals crease.
After a shaky start to the 2021-22 campaign, Samsonov will make his fourth straight start for Washington when they take on the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. It marks the first time in the 24-year-old’s career that he will start more than three consecutive games.
Samsonov has been stellar in his last five starts, boasting two shutouts and a .939 save percentage over that span. He is 9-0-1 through 11 games this season and has completely turned around his play from the start of the year.
The Russian said he is in a good place mentally and has been working closely with Scott Murray and the coaching staff to improve. He appears quicker between the pipes and is relying on his skill and athleticism while being more confident and composed and controlling the tempo.
“[L.A.] was important game for me… I think I change my next page,” Samsonov said postgame. “This may be my next page because my start in season is not too great. I will believe, I will better.”
Samsonov got the start against the Cats on Black Friday as well, stopping 19 of 22 shots in the win.
READ MORE ON WHN: Evaluating the Capitals Through The Quarter Mark
His play has also earned him high praise from head coach Peter Laviolette and his teammates, who have all seen significant improvement for No. 30 and continue to have trust in their young tandem.
“He’s been playing good, and I think both goalies play good,” Dmitry Orlov said. “Vitek had a good start, too. We just try to help them, clean the front of our net and take out their sticks… they see the puck, most of the time, they stop it. So they’ve been good, and if something bad happens or breaks, they’ll always get our backs. So it’s great for us.”
On the forward lines, Daniel Sprong will remain a healthy scratch against Florida. He first drew out of the lineup on Sunday in Carolina as Lars Eller drew back in. Connor McMichael is taking over for Sprong on the second line left wing.
The rest of the lineup will likely remain the same.