News From Morning Skate: Aliaksei Protas Promoted To Top Line, Ilya Samsonov Expected To Start Tonight Against Canadiens

After returning from the West Coast on Monday and a day off on Tuesday, the Capitals were back to work on Wednesday for their gameday morning skate at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. They will host the Montreal Canadiens tonight at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is set for just after 7:00 PM.

T.J Oshie was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday. He is eligible to come off of the list on Sunday when the Capitals visit the Carolina Hurricanes. Oshie missed the last game in Seattle with a lower-body injury.

Conor Sheary, who also missed the last game in Seattle (upper body), was on the ice before this morning’s skate but he left and did not take line rushes. As a result, the Capitals recalled Beck Malenstyn and Mike Sgarbossa from Hershey.

The lines at morning skate:

Nicklas Backstrom, who has been out all season rehabbing a hip, skated with the team in a non-contact jersey on Wednesday.

“This is another step in his recovery, said Capital’s coach Peter Laviolette after the morning skate. It was great to have him back out on the ice. There is a little difference in this case compared to when someone is away for a week and then works their way into the team line-up. It will take some time and he still has work to do. But it was a big step in the right direction that he could be with us today.”

Lars Eller, who has been quarantining in Anaheim while in NHL covid protocols, is expected to return to DC in the next few days. The powerplay units at morning skate:

Ilya Samsonov was the first goaltender off the ice this morning, and is expected to get the start tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. Samsonov is currently on a 151:27 shutout streak after posting two consecutive shutouts on the west coast trip.

From Capitals PR:

The Capitals return home from their four-game road trip tonight to host the Montreal Canadiens tonight at Capital One Arena. Washington collected five of a possible eight points on the road trip, which included two-straight shutouts from goaltender Ilya Samsonov (Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks).

Samsonov was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week on Monday. He made 34 saves, including 14 in the opening period, in a 2-0 win over Los Angeles on Nov. 17. Samsonov then registered his second consecutive shutout with 22 stops in a 4-0 victory against San Jose on Nov. 20. He became the ninth goaltender in franchise history to post back-to-back shutouts and the first since Braden Holtby accomplished the feat from Jan. 5-7, 2017. Additionally, Samsonov became the first goaltender to post back-to-back shutouts on the road since Clint Malarchuk did so from Feb. 19-20, 1988. Samsonov is on an active 151:27 shutout streak dating to his Nov. 12 start against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

This season, Samsonov is 6-0-1 with a 2.11 goals against average and .924 save percentage. This marks the second consecutive season that Samsonov has earned at least one point in each of his first seven decisions, following a 6-0-1 start through eight outings in 2020-21 (2.54 goals-against average, .907 save percentage).

In addition, head coach Peter Laviolette enters tonight’s game one win shy of passing Pat Quinn (684) for the 11th-most wins by a head coach in NHL history despite coaching in 115 fewer games than Quinn (Quinn: 1,400 games; Laviolette: 1,285 games). Laviolette’s 684 wins rank fifth among active coaches.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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1 Response to News From Morning Skate: Aliaksei Protas Promoted To Top Line, Ilya Samsonov Expected To Start Tonight Against Canadiens

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good to see the stands filled up one again at MedStar. Always a busy week but after last year, it’s a sight for sore eyes.

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