The Washington Capitals got news and ran into more adversity, as Vitek Vanecek suffered an upper-body injury in the first period of their tilt with the Pittsburgh Penguins and will not return.
Early in the first period, Kasperi Kapanen got hooked from behind and fell into Vanecek, colliding with the netminder and sending him hard to the ice. Vanecek stayed in, but after surrendering a power-play goal, Vanecek exited the game and headed to the dressing room. He did not remain on the bench.
With Vanecek out, Ilya Samsonov has taken over in net and taxi squad goaltender Hunter Shepard is dressing as the backup. It’s unclear what the exact injury is or how severe it is. Washington plays again on Wednesday for the second game of a back-to-back against the Edmonton Oilers.
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It’s not great for the Capitals, who have seen Vanecek start to get into a rhythm. He was among the league’s best netminders over the month of January. In his last six starts, Vanecek has posted two shutouts, a .941 save percentage and 1.67 GAA. Through 23 total games this season, the Czech netminder is 10-6-5 with a 2.35 GAA and .916 SV%.
In 22 games this season, Samsonov is 13-5-3 with a 2.79 GAA and .903 SV%.