The first goal of the 2021 postseason surrendered by Capitals starter Vitek Vanecek was a painful one.
In fact, it knocked him out of action, and forced Capitals coach Peter Laviolette to hand the keys to the crease to the 39-year-old Craig Anderson, who had spent the majority of the 2021 season on Washington’s taxi squad, and appeared in just four games during the regular season. But the old man delivered, with stops on all but one of the 22 shots thrown his way.
“Andy’s answered the bell really his whole career, but he’s answered it when we’ve needed him,” Laviolette said after his team’s 3-2 Game 1 overtime victory. “He truly epitomizes the concept of working hard every day so that when you get your opportunity you’re ready, and that’s exactly what he did.”
As for his original starter, however, Laviolette had nothing to offer in terms of an update, and was more than content keeping that one close to his vest entering Monday’s Game 2.
“We’re just getting off the ice here, so we’ll go in [Sunday] and we’ll assess everything and address everything and then probably give you nothing,” Laviolette said with a grin. “How’s that for honesty?”
It is worth mentioning that goaltender Ilya Samsonov was removed from the league’s COVID protocol Saturday but was not active for Game 1.
Laviolette (naturally) wouldn’t comment on Samsonov’s status entering Game 2, but it’s hard imagine the 24-year-old Samsonov, who went through an eight-game COVID-related absence back in February, going from zero to 60 and suiting up in time for Monday’s contest. That, barring a quick recovery from Vanecek, would likely set the Caps up for another night with Anderson in the starter’s net and Pheonix Copley on deck as the team’s backup.
“There’s a lot of confidence in all of our goalies,” said Laviolette. “Our goaltending depth is really good. You’d like to be healthy, you’d like to have everybody available. But there’s a lot of confidence in Anderson.”
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.