NHL Buzz: Samsonov returns to start for Capitals at Devils

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Welcome to the NHL Buzz. Throughout the 2020-21 season, NHL.com will have you covered with the latest news.

Washington Capitals

Ilya Samsonov will play his first game since Jan. 17 when he starts at the New Jersey Devils on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; MSG, NBCSWA, NHL.TV).

The goalie was recalled from the taxi squad. He entered NHL COVID-19 protocol on Jan. 20 and returned to practice Feb. 8.

“It’s been a bit of a longer road (for Samsonov) than probably anyone ever expected,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “We made sure that with him coming back that we wanted to put him in a position where he was feeling good on the ice and that he had some [American Hockey League] games and to get some quality practices under his belt and we’re faced with a situation today where he gets an opportunity. Vitek [Vanecek] has done a great job for us but it’s an opportunity for [Samsonov] as well.”

Vanecek has started 17 games this season, including 12 in a row from Jan. 22 to Feb. 20. He’s 9-4-3 with a 2.81 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. Samsonov is 1-0-1 with a 3.36 GAA and .868 save percentage in two games.

Goalie Craig Anderson was reassigned to the taxi squad.

Evgeny Kuznetsov remains day to day with an upper-body injury. The forward was a late scratch prior to a 5-2 win against the Devils on Saturday. He’s scored six points (two goals, four assists) in 11 games.

New Jersey Devils

Nico Hischier is being evaluated after taking a puck to his helmet and visor Saturday and will not play against the Washington Capitals.

“He’s being evaluated, and he’ll be out for today and we’ll just go from there,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “He’s day to day for now.”

Hischier left the game at 15:37 of the third period in a 5-2 loss.

The center made his season debut Feb. 20 after not participating in on-ice sessions for the start of training camp after a leg injury sustained while training in Switzerland in December. He was placed on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list Feb. 8 and removed 13 days later. — Mike G. Morreale

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