Capitals: Top 3 key players to watch against Hurricanes

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RALEIGH, NC – JANUARY 3: Ilya Samsonov #30 of the Washington Capitals goes down in the crease to make a save but is unable to stop a shot by Teuvo Teravainen #86 of the Carolina Hurricanes during an NHL game on January 3, 2020 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

Ilya Samsonov

With main starting netminder Braden Holtby going through another slump, the Washington Capitals will turn to their rookie netminder where he was successful against the Carolina Hurricanes in the last meeting. Ilya Samsonov will be up to the challenge once again.

Samsonov got the nod on Jan. 3 and made 38 saves on 41 shots for a .927 save percentage. He also had a 26-save performance on Tuesday night in Washington’s 6-1 win over the Ottawa Senators for a .963 save percentage.

Washington’s last meeting with the Hurricanes saw Samsonov become the second goaltender in NHL history to win each of his first eight road starts. Former Capitals backup netminder Brent Johnson did it in 10 starts from Feb. 1999 to Jan. 2001.

This season Samsonov carries a 12-2-1 record with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. The 22-year old ensures that the crease is in good hands no matter what the future holds for Braden Holtby. Lately, Samsonov’s play is similar to the way Philipp Grubauer played a few seasons ago when Holtby was struggling.

In turn, another matchup against the Hurricanes will give Samsonov more NHL experience as he continues to develop his game. Can he shutdown the Hurricanes again? We can’t wait to see.

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