The Washington Capitals will start goaltender Ilya Samsonov against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington) after Braden Holtby allowed three goals on three shots and was pulled in the team’s 6-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday. Samsonov made 22 saves on 23 shots in relief.
Samsonov, 22, was solid in goal in Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars as he made 24 saves. In his first three career NHL games, Samsonov has recorded a .944 save percentage and a 1.43 goals-against average.
Holtby, on the other hand, is off a rough start this season. The 30-year old has posted a 1-1-2 record, an .846 save percentage, and a 4.27 goals-against average. He has given up at least three goals in four of his five starts this season, including the past four.
Holtby went through a similar slump in February 2018 when he went 1-5-1 with an .851 save percentage. After the Capitals turned to Philipp Grubauer as their starter for the remainder of the regular-season and started him for the first two games of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Holtby grabbed his job back and went 16-7 with a .922 save percentage and a 2.16 save percentage to help the Capitals win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Holtby can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 but the Capitals will likely not re-sign him if Samsonov, the Capitals’ projected goalie of the future, keeps playing as well as he has to start the season.
By Harrison Brown