WASHINGTON, D.C. — The wait is over for Ilya Samsonov. Samsonov will get the start for the Washington Capitals as they face off against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, head coach Peter Laviolettte announced.
This will be Samsonov’s first start of the 2021-22 campaign and his first regular-season game since May 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Laviolette said on Tuesday that the 24-year-old would draw back into action eventually. Vitek Vanecek got the first two starts of the season, putting on a show in both games with a combined .937 save percentage and 1.44 GAA.
“At some point, we’re going to put Sammy in,” Laviolette said on Monday. “With regard to the goaltending, we’re looking for great goaltending and I think we’ve gotten that.”
Over the course of his career, Samsonov has played in just one game against the Avalanche. On Oct. 14, 2019, Samsonov relieved Braden Holtby after the former Capitals netminder surrendered three goals on the Avs’ first three shots of the game. Samsonov made 19 saves on 21 shots against, good for a .905 save percentage and 2.46 GAA. Washington fell 6-3.
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Injuries have plagued the Russian netminder over the course of his career, and last season, he had a bout with COVID-19 that made it difficult for him to breathe and walk at times. He recovered and came back, but ended up on COVID-19 protocol again toward the end of the year. Laviolette also scratched Samsonov for disciplinary reasons before he made his return in the postseason in place of an injured Vanecek.
He ultimately went 13-4-1 in 19 games with a .902 SV% and 2.69 GAA, and also came up big in Washington’s final three games of the playoffs despite the results. In a total of 45 career games, Samsonov is 29-10-3 with a 2.61 GAA and .908 save percentage. Samsonov has yet to start more than three consecutive games in his career.
Samsonov said he’s feeling healthy entering this year and that he’s eager to put last season behind him as he prepares to get back in the starter’s net.
“It was not fun season for me,” Samsonov said of last year. “We lost the first round. But we get some more concentration for this season for sure.
“I feel unbelievable. No injury, no nothing,” Samsonov added. “I’m just keeping forward, looks forward and get some ready for work hard.”