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Samsonov Will Kick Off Leafs Tenure vs. Capitals, As Kuznetsov Predicted

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Washington Capitals

Ilya Samsonov will get his first rematch against the Washington Capitals to open 2022-23.

Per NHL.com’s Dave McCarthy, Samsonov will start the Toronto Maple Leafs’ second game of the season against his former club on Thursday.

Following inconsistent seasons up with the Capitals, Samsonov didn’t receive a qualifying offer this offseason and hit free agency. There, he signed a one-year, $1.8 million deal with the club. He will form a 1A/1B tandem with fellow new Leafs netminder Matt Murray. Murray will start the season opener against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.

In 39 games last season while splitting the Washington net with Vitek Vanecek, who was dealt to New Jersey, Samsonov went 23-12-5 with a .896 save percentage and 3.02 GAA.

Evgeny Kuznetsov spoke about Samsonov back on media day and even predicted correctly that his former teammate would get the nod for that game.

“I wish him all the best and you know, as a friend, you probably always want him to be successful,” Kuznetsov said. I hope that everything’s gonna work out with him and he’s gonna play well. That’s a tough environment to be around but so far it sounds like they have pretty good guys inside the team… I’m very excited about that second game when we have to play there. We’ll see how it goes.”

READ MORE ON WHN: What To Know, Who To Watch & Who Did, Didn’t Make Washington Capitals Opening Night Roster

When asked about what would happen if Samsonov didn’t play that game, Kuznetsov shot back: “he will.”

He was right.

To replace Samsonov and Vanecek, the Capitals brought in veteran Darcy Kuemper as the new No. 1 following his Stanley Cup-winning season with the Colorado Avalanche. They then signed Charlie Lindgren as the backup following an impressive season split between the NHL and AHL with the St. Louis Blues organization.

Samsonov will also face Alex Ovechkin’s shot for the first time as an opponent. He said last week that Auston Matthews has a harder shot than the Great 8.

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