The Washington Capitals saw things take a turn quickly to open their tilt against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.
Just 5:07 minutes in, head coach Peter Laviolette elected to change netminders after Ilya Samsonov surrendered three goals on four shots (.250 save percentage).
Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring just 1:30 in with a tip from in tight. Then, Evander Kane made it 2-0 just 1:31 minutes later. After that, the Oilers went on their top-ranked power play, and Connor McDavid struck 2:06 minutes after Kane.
Pheonix Copley then came off the bench in relief of the Russian, who was starting his second game of a back-to-back. Samsonov had unexpectedly played on Tuesday when Vitek Vanecek went down with an injury early in the first period against the Penguins following a hard collision. The 24-year-old was stellar in relief, stopping 43 of 45 shots en route to a huge OT victory over the Penguins.
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Copley came up from Hershey on Wednesday and joined the taxi squad. He ended up dressing as the backup with Vanecek still being evaluated for his upper-body injury.
Through 21 games this season, Copley is 12-7-3 with a .906 save percentage and 2.50 GAA. He has been excellent in his last five games for Hershey, boasting three wins and a .962 SV%. He has 27 games under his belt at the NHL level and served as Braden Holtby’s backup in 2018-19.
Lars Eller got the Capitals on the board later on to make it 3-1 in the opening frame.
Wednesday could have been a turning point for Samsonov, who has been losing traction in the race for the No. 1 spot with Vanecek elevating his play of late. However, having carried a heavy workload on Tuesday, facing the high-flying Oilers against McDavid, Draisaitl and other high-danger young guns did pose a challenge.