Ilya Samsonov wins NHL debut as Capitals beat Islanders

TJ Oshie scores the game winning goal and Ilya Samsonov allows only one bad-bounce goal in his first NHL start, as the Washington Capitals defeat the New York Islanders 2-1.

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Ilya Samsonov was stellar in his NHL debut and helped the Washington Capitals stay perfect in two road games to start the season.

T.J. Oshie scored the tiebreaking goal, Samsonov stopped 25 shots, and the Capitals beat the Islanders 2-1 Friday night to spoil New York’s season opener.

"First win in the NHL, I feel wonderful," the 22-year-old Samsonov said, before getting a shaving cream pie to the face from teammate Tom Wilson. "Everybody helped me, played a good game."

Capitals coach Todd Rierden was also pleased with the debut of his young goalie, the 22nd overall pick in 2015 who played for Hershey of the AHL last season.

"I thought he played great," Rierden said. "He looked very comfortable. I thought it was a great first game for a highly touted prospect."

Jakub Vrana got his second goal in two games for the Capitals, who opened the season with a 3-2, overtime win at St. Louis on Wednesday night.

Devon Toews scored for the Islanders and Semyon Varlamov, making his Islanders debut, made 26 saves.

"I thought we’d be a little bit rusty not having played already," New York coach Barry Trotz said. "I didn’t mind our first (period). … The second period I thought we played a little bit better, certainly got a little bit of momentum. They scored a power-play goal and in the third they were the better team."

Both teams had chances in this matchup of the Metropolitan Division’s top teams from last season. The Capitals finished first but were beaten by Carolina in seven games in the first round. The Islanders, who finished a point behind, swept Pittsburgh in the first round before being swept by the Hurricanes.

Lars Eller nearly extended Washington’s lead to two goals but his shot went off the crossbar 5:40 into the third period, and Mathew Barzal‘s attempt to tie it hit a goalpost nearly two minutes later.

The Islanders pulled Varlamov for an extra skater with about a minute left, but couldn’t get the tying goal.

"It was a really good road win," Oshie said. "You get up on a team in their barn, especially on opening night, you know they will keep coming. We did a good job of deterring them from many chances and making them go 200 feet every time."

With the score tied 1-1 after 20 minutes, Samsonov made a nice glove save on a shot by Cal Clutterbuck 17 seconds into the middle period.

Tom Wilson nearly put Washington ahead at the 5 1/2-minute mark of the period as he beat Varlamov with a hard shot, but the puck went off the left post.

Oshie gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal late in the period. With the Islanders’ Brock Nelson off for hooking, John Carlson’s shot was blocked by Scott Mayfield, but the puck came to Oshie in the middle and he backhanded it in from his knees up over Varlamov’s glove with 2:17 left.

Vrana, who scored in overtime to give Washington a 3-2 win at St. Louis on Wednesday night, got the Capitals on the scoreboard first. He got a pass from Eller as he crossed the centre line on the right side, skated up and fired a shot from the right circle that went off Varlamov’s glove and in with 9:35 left in the opening period.

The Islanders tied it with a fluky goal that deflected off multiple Capitals players with 7:33 left. Toews sent a harmless looking shot toward the goal from the left side, and the puck deflected off Nic Dowd’s right skate toward the middle, where it deflected off Garnet Hathaway’s right skate and then Radko Gudas’ left skate toward the right corner of the net. Samsonov slid over and stretched his left leg out, but the puck bounced off his left skate and then the post and in.

NOTES: Carlson has three assists in two games this season. … Since trailing St. Louis 2-0 in the first period on Wednesday night, the Capitals have a 5-1 scoring edge. … The teams meet three more times this season: Dec. 31 at Washington, Jan. 18 at the Nassau Coliseum, and Feb. 10 at Washington. Last season, the teams split their four-game series, with the road team winning each contest. … Varlamov signed a four-year deal on July 1, replacing Vezina Trophy finalist and fan-favourite Robin Lehner. … C Derick Brassard, signed to a one-year deal, also made his Islanders debut. … The Islanders, beginning a season at home for just the 10th time in franchise history, dropped to 0-4-3 in their last seven season openers on home ice.


Capitals: Host Carolina on Saturday night in their home opener

Islanders: Host Winnipeg on Sunday night for the middle game of a season-opening three-game homestand.


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