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Vanecek injury leaves Capitals unsure at goalie after Game 1 win

May stick with Anderson in first round against Bruins; Samsonov status unknown

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals face an uncertain goalie situation entering Game 2 of their Stanley Cup First Round series against the Boston Bruins.

Craig Anderson came off the bench to replace an injured Vitek Vanecek and made 21 saves in a 3-2 overtime win against the Bruins in Game 1 of the best-of-7 series at Capital One Arena on Saturday.

It was not immediately known if Vanecek would be available for Game 2 here Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, NBCSWA, NESN).

"We're just getting off the ice here, so we'll go in tomorrow and we'll assess everything and address everything," Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. "And then probably give you nothing."

Video: BOS@WSH, Gm1: DeBrusk wires home a wrist shot

Laviolette didn't provide an update on the severity of the lower-body injury Vanecek sustained while failing to stop Jake DeBrusk's goal that tied the game 1-1 with 6:50 remaining in the first period.

The 25-year-old rookie was making his Stanley Cup Playoff debut after leading NHL rookies in wins (21-10-4) with a 2.69 goals-against average, .908 save percentage and two shutouts during the regular season.

Vanecek's injury pushed Anderson into his first NHL playoff game since May 25, 2017, for the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, a 3-2 double-overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Anderson, who turns 40 on May 21, spent most of this season on Washington's taxi squad and played four games, including two starts.

Anderson allowed one goal on 22 shots, holding the Capitals in the tight-checking game until Nic Dowd scored the winning goal 4:41 into overtime.

"In this time of year, it doesn't matter what happened," Washington captain Alex Ovechkin said. "Somebody gets hurt, somebody didn't have a game right, we have to find a way. I think everybody understands that. It is time for us to step up."

Anderson was the backup because Ilya Samsonov was not available after being removed from NHL COVID-19 protcol Saturday afternoon. Samsonov hasn't played since May 1, when he made 23 saves in a 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Samsonov and center Evgeny Kuznetsov were scratched for disciplinary reasons for a 6-3 win against the New York Rangers on May 3 and entered COVID-19 protocol the next day. 

Samsonov, along with Kuznetsov, was on the ice for an optional practice Sunday, but how much time he'll need before he's ready to play is unknown. He was 13-4-1 with a 2.69 GAA, .902 save percentage and two shutouts this season.

That leaves Anderson as the likeliest candidate to start Game 2. He was 2-1-0 with a 2.13 GAA and .915 save percentage in the regular season. He made 28 saves in a 2-1 overtime win against the Philadelphia Flyers on May 8, his first start since Feb. 22.

"Well, you could say I'm well-rested from not playing so much," Anderson said jokingly. "I think it's one of those things coming into the year, I knew the situation, I knew the role that I was asked to do. I think opportunity knocks, you make the most of your opportunity."

Video: Dowd propels Capitals past Bruins in Game 1

With Samsonov unavailable, Pheonix Copley, who moved between Washington's taxi squad and Hershey of the American Hockey League (10-4-1, 2.66 GAA, .896 save percentage, two shutouts) this season, was the emergency backup after Vanecek was injured. Copley hasn't played in the NHL since 2018-19, when he played 27 games (24 starts).

The Capitals also have Zach Fucale, who was 9-2-0 with Hershey this season, led the AHL with a 1.80 GAA, and was second in the league with a .932 save percentage.

"Our goaltending depth is really good," Laviolette said. "You'd like to be healthy, you'd like to have everybody available, but this is what we're dealt. But I can tell you that there's a lot of confidence in Anderson. Pheonix Copley had a terrific year. Fucale's numbers are some of the best in the AHL. Hopefully Vanecek's on the mend and Samsonov works back into the mix. 

"So we still feel like we have good depth and we still feel like we have good goaltenders."

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