Through four periods, Washington Capitals rookie goaltender Ilya Samsonov was having a pretty stellar first postseason performance.
The 24-year-old had limited the Boston Bruins to just two goals in a pivotal Game 3 despite not playing a game since May 1 due to COVID-19 protocols. In the second overtime frame, however, the Russian puckstopper made an ill-advised play behind his net that proved costly.
Samsonov left his crease to play the puck, but some miscommunication between him and defenseman Justin Schultz led to Craig Smith’s game-winning wraparound. The goal clinched the victory for the Bruins, giving them a 2-1 series lead.
Goaltenders will tell you a couple of fatal mistakes — aside from the obvious communication mishap between him and Schultz — Samsonov made here. For one, he left the puck way too close to the boards after stopping it instead of pulling it about a foot or so away, which would've gave Schultz less to think about when retrieving it. And second, Samsonov should've returned to the net on the same side that he left it, which would've given him the opportunity to impede Smith a little bit while not having to turn his back on the play for that split second as Smith wrapped it into the far side of the goal.
Among those most frustrated by the blunder was Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin, who angrily demolished his stick off the boards and let somebody hear it as the team left the ice.
I’m not entirely positive who his tirade was directed towards, but you’re probably safe to believe it was either Samsonov or Schultz.
Samsonov was the third different goalie to start for the Capitals in this series. Vitek Vanecek earned the call in Game 1 but suffered a lower-body injury in the first period. Veteran netminder Craig Anderson took over from there and started Game 2 but was scratched for Game 3.
Washington’s 3-2 defeat in overtime is its second-straight loss in extra time and the third straight game in this series to go beyond regulation. Game 4 will once again take place at TD Garden in Boston and is scheduled for this Friday.
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