Peter Laviolette started a third different goaltender in as many games Wednesday night against the Boston Bruins. Laviolette chose to sit 39-year-old Craig Anderson in favor of Ilya Samsonov, who the team had suspended for disciplinary reasons only 16 days ago.
Samsonov was sensational in his first game since May 1, shutting down a long five-on-three Bruins power play and making 40 saves on the night. But it was Samsonov’s miscommunication with Justin Schultz in the second overtime that ultimately cost Washington the game.
Afterward, Laviolette explained his decision to go back to the 24-year-old Russian.
“We’ve been working to get Sammy back, watching him closely to see how he’s been doing,” Laviolette said. “Why did I put him back? Because he’s been our goaltender all year. Him and Vitek were the guys that got us here and I think with that and the maintenance we gave Craig Anderson – that was the choice that we went with.”
Vitek Vanecek, who is out injured, started 36 of 56 games for the Caps during the regular season while Samsonov got 18 games and Anderson two. Anderson, who many believed would start Game Three, stopped 65 of 71 shots and posted a 2.13 goals against average and a .915 save percentage during his two playoff apperances. Instead he wasn’t dressed, with Pheonix Copley serving as Sammy’s backup.
“It’s a maintenance day because we felt it was in [Craig’s] best interest with where he’s at coming off a couple games with a lot of work,” Laviolette said. “It was also, Sammy’s been a guy that we have counted on the entire year. He played a heck of a game tonight. Craig is available. I’m assuming he’s available moving forward as well as Sammy as the rest of our goaltenders as well. The only guy that’s unavailable is Vitek.”
As for Samsonov’s double overtime turnover, Laviolette placed blame on both players, but praised Samsonov on how he played overall.
“It looked like one of them went for ‘leave it’ and one went for an outlet pass,” Lavy said. “There was just a little bit of a miscommunication.
“It’s a tough ending,” he added. “You can tell by the emotions of the two players there was a miscommunication there. Certainly something we’ll talk about. It’s the little things and details of a game that can make a difference. That’s what makes it tough. It was a tough ending but Sammy coming in with the 14 or 15 days off I thought he played a heck of a game.”
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