RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – Ilya Samsonov isn’t playing like a rookie. He isn’t playing like a backup, either.
Samsonov made 18 of his 38 saves in the first period, and the Washington Capitals edged the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 on Friday night.
“We allowed them to get the momentum, and he was really, really sharp, definitely the difference-maker tonight,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Lars Eller each had a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who had dropped two in a row. Richard Panik and Jakub Vrana also scored.
Washington led 4-1 early in the third period before Carolina rallied on power-play goals by Teuvo Teravainen and Ryan Dzingel. Samsonov stopped Warren Foegele late in the game to preserve the win.
Jordan Staal also scored for the Hurricanes (24-15-2), who fell to 2-1-0 on their seven-game homestand.
The NHL-leading Capitals (28-9-5) had dropped their last four games against Carolina dating to Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last season.
After the Hurricanes posted a 6-4 win over Washington on Dec. 28, Carolina forward Warren Foegele confirmed the series had developed into a rivalry, saying: “We don’t like them. They don’t like us.”
Samsonov helped the Capitals break through against the Hurricanes. He is Washington’s No. 2 goaltender behind Braden Holtby, who is an NHL All-Star for the fifth straight season.
But like Holtby, Samsonov has been outstanding this season, and he entered as the first goalie in NHL history to open his career with wins in his first seven road games in the same season. He is 11-2-1 overall.
Samsonov seemed unfazed by the 41 shots he faced and the 18 saves he made in the first period.
“I like it,” he said. “I like a lot of shots at my net. It’s a hard game, a good win.”
Stars 4, Red Wings 1
In Dallas, Joe Pavelski had a goal and an assist as the Stars beat Detroit for their fourth straight come-from-behind win.
Pavelski was honored before the game for playing in his 1,000th NHL game last month, and then showed why he has lasted so long in the league.