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California Paradise: Capitals’ Samsonov Earns NHL Second-Star Honors

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Capitals netminder Ilya Samsonov

Ilya Samsonov was putting on a show on the West Coast for the Washington Capitals, and the NHL took notice.

The Russian netminder was named the league’s second star for the week of Nov. 15. He joins Avalanche blueliner Cale Makar and Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau.

Samsonov was flawless on the Capitals’ California trip, posting back-to-back shutouts in his games against the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. He was always in perfect position and tracked the puck well, while gobbling up rebounds, moving well laterally and coming up with big saves.

“He seems focused and dialed in, he seems like he’s in control,” head coach Peter Laviolette said of No. 30. “I think everybody had the same feeling this game as they did last game that he was just in position, he was there, he looked sharp, he looked focused. He made the ones that he was supposed to make and then he made some real tough ones to go with it.”

“What I talking about, my mentally, you know?” Samsonov added in regard to his play. “Much easy, my body looks like more loose, much easy to move… A lot of positive. I will be keeping working every day and I will better and better, you know? I really hungry for a win.”

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Samsonov stopped 56 of 56 shots on the West Coast swing for a 1.000 save percentage. He has not surrendered a goal in 151:27 minutes. The last time he gave up goals was against the Blue Jackets on Nov. 22, when he let by two goals in 22 seconds. Since then, he’s been a different player.

The 24-year-old is undefeated in regulation this season, boasting a 6-0-1 record. His stats skyrocketed with his performance. His .924 save percentage ranks 15th in the league, and he also has a 2.11 GAA and three shutouts (second-most in the NHL) to go with it.

It appears that the West Coast swing could be a turning point for “Sammy,” and even earn him more time in goal. He is not only battling Vitek Vanecek for the starting spot but also working to prove himself as a starter on a one-year bridge deal. And right now, he’s on the right track.

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