The Washington Capitals are now down 2-1 in their first-round series against the Boston Bruins after another careless play in the defensive zone.
Wednesday, Ilya Samsonov and Justin Schultz miscommunicated behind the net allowing Bruins forward Craig Smith to pick up the loose puck and score easily on a wraparound. The goal, which came 5:48 into the second overtime, gave the Bruins’ a 3-2 victory.
Meanwhile, the goal left Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin fuming at the bench.
The play started with a simple dump-in down the right side of the boards by Kevan Miller. Samsonov, playing in his first career postseason game after a 17-day layoff, stopped the puck and then left it behind the net for nine-year veteran Justin Schultz. Schultz, clearly anticipating something else, veered to the corner boards before changing course. A hard-charging Smith then beat Schultz in a foot race to the puck and Samsonov to the far post for the deflating game-winner.
That single play ruined what was an incredible performance by Samsonov who stopped 40 shots in five periods of play. His last start came on May 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
NBC Sports Washington analyst and former Capitals goaltender, Brent Johnson, gave his insight into what he thought went wrong.
“The miscue is, Samsonov, once he touches the puck back here, he’s gotta go in the same way he came out with the puck because he’s got to provide that interference for Smith,” Johnson said. “So as soon as he stops the puck, he’s got to retrace his steps and provide that interference that he should have and that would have given Schultz — even if there was that miscommunication – that time to go back and grab the puck. [Samsonov] follows it around and keeps going around the net. By the time he looks back and notices that Smith has the puck, it’s behind him in the net.
“Almost every single time, as soon as you stop that puck behind the net, you cannot continue out the opposite side because your back is turned,” he continued. “If you go out the same way you came in, then you know what’s going on. Everything’s going on in front of you and that’s the miscommunication.”
Former Capitals forward Craig Laughlin believed Samsonov was going to pass it to the corner.
The costly turnover left Ovechkin, 35 and in the final year of a 13-year contract, furious. The Capitals captain broke his stick over the Capitals bench and screamed in Samsonov and Schultz’s direction as they skated off the ice.
Angry Ovechkin after Caps lose Game 3 in OT pic.twitter.com/S8yD92kTZm
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) May 20, 2021
The game was Samsonov’s first since being suspended by the team, along with Evgeny Kuznetsov, for disciplinary reasons.
“It looked like one of them went for ‘leave it’ and one went for an outlet pass,” Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said afterward. “There was just a little bit of a miscommunication. It was a tough break the way the game ended.”
John Carlson believed that if Sammy “didn’t stand on his head, we probably wouldn’t have gotten to [overtime].”
He added, “He was huge tonight for us. I wouldn’t say anything other than keep your head up, there’s a lot more hockey to be played.”
The OT goal was the second in consecutive games that Schultz had been on the ice for. On Monday, Brad Marchand scored less than a minute into overtime after Brenden Dillon sent a blind clear up the boards that was picked off by the Bruins.
Schultz and Dillon were Brian MacLellan’s big unrestricted free agent signings over the offseason.
Screenshot courtesy of NBCSN
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