ARLINGTON, V.A. — It looks like Vitek Vanecek is ready to make his return to the lineup. The Washington Capitals have recalled Vanecek from the Hershey Bears. He will likely dress against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.
Vanecek was loaned to Hershey on Sunday for a conditioning assignment. He started the Bears’ game against the Utica Comets, stopping 21 of 23 shots (.913 save percentage) in a 3-1 loss. He looked solid overall, moving well in the crease and coming up big when necessary.
The Czech netminder has been out of the lineup since suffering an upper-body injury against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 1. Early in that first period, Kasperi Kapanen collided helmet-to-helmet with Vanecek. He initially stayed in, but after allowing a power-play goal, he exited the game. Since then, he has been on the IR, though he has returned to practice and traveled with the team.
READ MORE ON WHN: Vanecek Looks Solid While Conditioning With Hershey, Plays In First Game Since Feb. 1
Through 24 games this season, Vanecek is 10-6-5 with a .915 save percentage and 2.39 GAA. In his last six games before his injury, he boasted a .941 save percentage. Vanecek also has the lowest GAA (1.75) and rebounds allowed per 60 (1.86), along with the fourth-highest save percentage (.935) in the NHL at five-on-five.
Since Vanecek has been out, Ilya Samsonov has taken over as the starter, with Pheonix Copley up with the big club as the backup. Samsonov has played in nine straight games and started the last six. He has had a couple of standout starts and has a .900 save percentage in those last six games overall. Through 31 games this season, Samsonov is 17-9-3 with a 2.85 GAA and .904 save percentage.
It is unclear who the Capitals starter will be against the Leafs yet. Toronto scored 10 goals in a wild game against the Detroit Red Wings back on Saturday, with Mitch Marner chipping in four of his own.