It was a wild Thursday to say the least for the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs. As Washington fell to 0-2-0 on the season after power-play woes overshadowed a standout Charlie Lindgren performance against Toronto, Ilya Samsonov captured his first win with his new club against his former team — and he couldn’t be happier about it.
“Thank you, guys, thank you, defensemen, thank you, fans. I am so happy,” he told reporters after the game.
Samsonov stopped 24 of 26 shots (.923 save percentage) to secure a 3-2 victory for the Maple Leafs on Thursday, marking Toronto’s first win of the season.
Washington went 0-for-5 on the man advantage against the Leafs, and Alex Ovechkin was again held off the scoresheet. Samsonov surrendered two goals to Nic Dowd and Marcus Johansson. He also had a questionable moment where he appeared to play the puck out to his former club. However, there was no harm done on the odd misplay.
After the game, Samsonov caught up with his former teammates in Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
— Mike Zeisberger (@Zeisberger) October 14, 2022
The 25-year-old also admitted that playing against his former club was an emotional experience, but the nerves faded with time.
“A little emotion, you know, in the first period? First game with the Leafs against old team… It was an important game and we won. Everything is good,” Samsonov added.
READ MORE ON WHN: Lindgren Shines, But Lifeless Play Sinks Washington Capitals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Samsonov signed a one-year, $1.8 million deal to join Toronto this offseason after spending the start of his young career in D.C. The 2015 first-round selection could never truly reach his potential with Washington, struggling with injuries, COVID and inconsistencies. And after posting a .896 save percentage through 39 games last season while splitting the net with Vittek Vanecek, general manager Brian MacLellan passed on issuing a qualifying offer to Samsonov, allowing him to hit the market. The Capitals also traded Vanecek to the New Jersey Devils.
To replace the young duo, Washington brought in Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren. Lindgren played opposite Samsonov on Thursday and was stellar, stopping 36 of 39 shots (.923 SV%) in his Capitals debut.
Meanwhile, Samsonov got off on the right foot in the Six and made a statement as he battles Matt Murray for the full time No. 1 spot.