By Graham Dumas
Capitals goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov blanked Traktor Chelyabinsk in a 1-0 shootout win on Friday night, closing out the regular season for Magnitogorsk. Samsonov made 31 saves over 65 minutes of regulation and overtime, and stoned two out of Traktor’s three shooters in the shootout.
Early in the game, Metallurg was off to a slow start. Samsonov possessed the necessary mix of skill and luck to prevent what easily could have been a 3-0 Traktor lead by the start of the second.
At 6:42 into the first, Samsonov’s speed and agility counterbalanced sloppy defensive play by Metallurg, which needlessly created a brief 5-on-4 for Traktor.
Samsonov, anticipating a shot from the high slot, reacted swiftly to the slap pass and shut down what should have been an easy empty-net goal.
At 7:49 in the first, Samsonov lost the puck after a hard shot from top of the right circle bounced out of his glove.
As the defenseman fumbled the bouncing puck and nearly kicked it into the net, Samsonov’s quick reflexes stopped what would have been an embarrassing, self-inflicted wound.
Luck favored Samsonov heavily on this sequence at 12:14 into the first.
Though the young netminder was slow getting across the net to shut down a big rebound chance, Traktor defenseman Kirill Koltsov fanned on his empty-net attempt.
While they say it’s sometimes better to be lucky than good, Samsonov has arguably been both this season. His .936 save percentage is well above that of last year, with significantly more playing time. His record of 15 wins and three losses in 27 appearances is close to unimpeachable, as were his strong showings on the international stage.
Continued strong play from Samsonov will be critical as Metallurg is set to begin the Gagarin Cup playoffs as the top seed in the East. They will face Beijing-based Kunlun Red Star in the first round as they try to defend their championship from last year.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.