Capitals at Lightning Pregame Notebook: Ilya Samsonov Starts In Fathers’ Trip Opener


Goaltender Ilya Samsonov, who is 7-2-1 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.42 goals-against average in 10 games this season, will get the nod for the Washington Capitals on Saturday night as they open their annual fathers and mentor’s trip at Amalie Arena against the Tampa Bay Lightning (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington). This will mark the 22-year old’s first career start against the Lightning.

Capitals are 80-33-6-10 all-time against the Lightning, the highest point percentage (.682) Washington has against a single franchise. Alex Ovechkin has earned 91 points (48g, 43a) in 70 career games against the Lightning, tied for the most points he has earned against an NHL franchise (Atlanta/Winnipeg and Carolina: 91).

Ovechkin ranks first in NHL history in goals (48) and first in points (91) earned against Tampa Bay and ranks fourth in assists (Nicklas Backstrom, Jaromir Jagr: 47, Daniel Alfredsson: 46). Ovechkin has earned 28 points in his last 20 games against Tampa Bay (19g, 9a). Backstrom’s 47 assists are the most assist he has against a single franchise.

Capitals’ Lines at Lightning

With each player on the roster getting a game on the fathers’ trip, Braden Holtby will start in goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Monday night while forward Travis Boyd will draw back in the lineup, most likely for Brendan Leipsic on the fourth-line, for the first time in three outings.

On the Lightning side, defenseman Braydon Coburn, who has not played since the Capitals’ 4-3 overtime win over the Lightning on November 24 due to a lower-body injury, could potentially return after Christmas but head coach Jon Cooper said that there was no timeline or update on his return. He skated with the club on Saturday morning.

Forward Tyler Johnson, who has missed the past three games with a lower-body injury, will also be out for Tampa Bay on Saturday night. Cooper didn’t know when he’ll start skating again but was hoping that he would soon.

Lightning’s Lines vs. Capitals


  • The Capitals enter their 12th annual mentor’s trip tonight. Players’ mentors will also be in attendance on Monday against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Since 2008, the Capitals have posted an 15-6-0 record with their mentors in attendance.
  • With their 3-2 win against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, the Capitals earned their 51st standings point in just their 33rd game this season. It marked the second-fewest games needed to reach the 50-point mark in franchise history (2015-16: 32 games, 24-6-2).
  • This season, the Capitals lead the NHL in points, goals for (117) and rank third in goal differential (+24).
  • Washington is the only team in the NHL to rank in the top five in power play percentage (24.0 percent, fifth in the NHL) and penalty kill percentage (85.3 percent, third in the NHL).
  • Since the start of the 2014-15 season, the Capitals lead the NHL in wins (276) and points (599), six wins and 24 points ahead of second-ranked Tampa Bay.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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3 Responses to Capitals at Lightning Pregame Notebook: Ilya Samsonov Starts In Fathers’ Trip Opener

  1. Anonymous says:

    Do work, Sammy!

  2. Day One Caps Fan says:

    Now that Kommissar Bettman will have spies posted in both locker rooms, to protect the universe from “inappropriate conduct,” I feel better about this game

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