Ilya Samsonov allowed only one goal in his NHL debut as the Capitals spoiled another home-opener in their 2-1 win over the New York Islanders on Friday. The Caps are now 2-0-0 to start the season despite being without Evgeny Kuznetsov and Michal Kempny.
Here are four reasons the Caps won.
Jakub Vrana’s second goal of the season
Vrana was one of the Caps’ top players in the season-opener after scoring the overtime winner. He picked up right where he left off on Friday with the game’s first goal.
Lars Eller passed it up on the breakout. It looked harmless, but Vrana used his speed to turn this into a scoring opportunity. He zipped past Jordan Eberle, leaving defenseman Ryan Pulock the only one between him and the net. Because Eberle was suddenly behind Vrana, he shifted to the left to cover Martin Fehervary who jumped into the rush, and Pulock shifted over to cover Vrana. The shift gave Vrana room to work with as he entered the offensive zone and he took advantage, lining up the shot and snapping it past the glove of goalie Semyon Varlamov.
That’s two goals in two games for Vrana.
John Carlson’s stick
The Islanders tied the goal on a triple deflection that beat Samsonov. Then the ice began to tilt in New York’s favor in the second period.
Brock Nelson thought he had the go-ahead goal when he pounced on a turnover. He showed great patience skating through the slot and holding onto the puck until Samsonov committed and made a desperate dive to try to force Nelson, skated around the outstretched glove, then went backhand to forehand looking to tuck it into the net from behind the goal line. Nelson’s easy goal was met by Carlson, who got his stick on Nelson’s just at the right time, knocking the puck back to Samsonov who smothered it.
Another power play goal
T.J. Oshie put the Caps up late in the third period on the power play. The refs were stingy with the whistles, so the Caps had to make their opportunities count. John Carlson had the puck at the blue line and wristed a puck in looking for a deflection. Oshie had his stick out, but the shot was blocked by Scott Mayfield. The puck bounced right into the slot and behind Johnny Boychuk. Oshie found it first, pulled his stick in, turned and chipped the puck with the backhand that went right over the shoulder of Varlamov.
Ilya Samsonov’s impressive debut
Samsonov made his NHL debut on Saturday and boy did he look impressive. The first shot on goal came at 2:41, which he gloved confidently to freeze the play. Of the 26 shots he faced, he turned away 25 of them. The only shot that beat him came from Devon Toews and it was a complete fluke. The shot hit off of Brendan Leipsic, Garnet Hathaway and Radko Gudas and even then Samsonov came very close to getting a pad on it.
Still, you can forgive the rookie for giving up a triple deflection. He did not allow another goal the rest of the game.
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