Vanecek will start Thursday, Samsonov to return to the Capitals Friday

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
J.J. Regan
·2 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Vanecek will start Thursday, Samsonov to return to the Caps Friday originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Vitek Vanecek will make his 12th consecutive start for the Capitals on Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington), but help for the rookie netminder is on the way. Ilya Samsonov will return to the Capitals on Friday after a brief conditioning stint in the AHL.

"Vitek will play tonight," head coach Peter Laviolette said after the morning skate. "With regard to Samsonov, he's played in two games, he's practicing today in Hershey and then will be returning here."

Vanecek has manned the crease since Samsonov tested positive for the coronavirus on Jan. 19 and has registered a .906 save percentage and 3.06 GAA. After an incredible start, Vanecek hit a rough patch along with the rest of the team in the four-game losing streak. He rebounded nicely on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins making 26 saves on 27 shots.

Samsonov has not played an NHL game since Jan. 17. He will return to Washington after two games with the Hershey Bears. He made 22 saves on 23 shots in a win on Wednesday.

Download and subscribe to the Capitals Talk podcast

Washington has a back-to-back over the weekend hosting the New York Rangers on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and the New Jersey Devils on Sunday at 7 p.m. It seems likely that Samsonov will start one of those games rather than Vanecek getting 14 consecutive starts with games No. 13 and 14 coming in a back-to-back situation.

Laviolette, however, would not commit to playing Samsonov right away.

"I'm not going to go that far out," Laviolette said. "Obviously we've got a busy schedule coming up so I'm sure you'll see him at some point. I think the purpose of him going down [to Hershey] was to just get him some games and let him play and let him feel the puck in game situations. It's a lot to ask based on the way the season started for him to just jump in and just get up to speed without the work so this provided a great opportunity for him to go down and take on a team in live-action and live minutes. He got a couple games under his belt so he'll be returning, but, again, the schedule's busy and so I'm sure you'll see him at some point."